Subverting the Narrative: Radical Ceramics

Subverting the Narrative: Radical Ceramics

Works by Lucie Rie, Akiko Hirai and Grayson Perry

Lucie Rie, Akiko Hirai and Grayson Perry all stand as trailblazers in the ceramic field creating thoroughly modern works for their times, and the April 2022 edition of Modern Made featured significant works by these modern masters that reflect the radical nature of their practice.

Lucie Rie


Lucie Rie
ILLUSTRATED (LEFT-RIGHT): LOT 236 | § DAME LUCIE RIE D.B.E. (BRITISH 1902-1995) | FOOTED BOWL, CIRCA 1980 | Sold for £57,500*
LOT 237 | § DAME LUCIE RIE D.B.E. (BRITISH 1902-1995) | FOOTED BOWL, CIRCA 1980 | Sold for £50,000*


View Lot 236 ⇒


View Lot 237 ⇒


Historically the world of craft and ceramics was deemed a fusty pastime, inferior to the mediums of paintings and sculpture, but after arriving to London as an émigré in 1938, Lucie Rie turned clay into a modernist art form that would sit in the most avant-garde homes. Rie combined an acute knowledge of the modernist aesthetic, with the superb technical skill creating works with sublime lines and forms, sgraffito decoration and colourful glazes as with the sublime pink sgraffito and jade green bowls in this edition, that had not been seen in British pottery up to this moment in time.


View works by Lucie Rie ⇒


Grayson Perry





In his own way Grayson Perry also subverted the narrative of what had come before him with his satirical viewpoint and sardonic humour Perry’s ceramic art works parody and disentangle many art historical reference points, as with the current work. This piece, takes on many of the elements synonymous with Perry’s work, with its blending of techniques such as slip trailing and photographic transfer, and in transforming pottery into a space for personal expression and satire. As with many of his unique ceramic works, the medium provided Perry with a safe space to explore his alter-ego Claire who takes centre stage in the current work, and is depicted in full Victorian mourning dress with one of his infamous pots in the background. This work becomes a place for self-reflection, as well as transforming the utilitarian nature of the medium into a statement of rebellion and satire. As Perry points out ‘My pots always carry with them the intellectual baggage of the history of ceramics, its archaeology, geography and value system. But up close, the content of my work can confound all that’ (Grayson Perry cited in Jacky Klein, Grayson Perry, London 2009, p. 242).


View works by Grayson Perry ⇒


Akiko Hirai

AKIKO HIRAI (JAPANESE 1970-) MOON JARLOT 354 | § AKIKO HIRAI (JAPANESE 1970-) | MOON JAR | Sold for £13,750*


View Lot 354 ⇒


In contrast Akiko Hirai is more interested in creating ‘imperfect’ and asymmetrical organic forms contrary to the work Rie was creating in the previous generation. In particular her large moon jars, modern versions of centuries old Korean vessels, made of grogged stoneware with rugged and cracked porcelain deposits over layered slips beneath running ash glazes, displays the full rawness of the material against the purity of the white glaze, with the aim of revealing beauty in the ‘unpolished’ work.


View works by Akiko Hirai ⇒



Auction Information


MODERN MADE: Modern & Post-War Art, Design & Studio Ceramics

Friday 29th April 2022 | London


View the auction results ⇒



Modern & Post-War Design


Lyon & Turnbull are a leading auction house in Modern, Post War and Contemporary Design, holding specialist live and online Design auctions in London and Edinburgh that are known for their international reach and strong results.

20th Century Design is a buoyant and exciting area of the market. With a wealth of experience, our Modern Design team offer expertise encompassing a range of media including ceramics, furniture, sculpture, lighting and textiles, holding auctions offering exceptional and important design from the last 100 years.

Our sales cover all the major movements from Pre-War French and British Modernism and Art Deco, to works from the Mid-Century and Post-War, including Italian and Nordic Design, European and American Modernism, Studio Craft through to Contemporary Design, Glass and Studio & Contemporary Ceramics.


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Philip Smith



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