Georges Jouve

1910-1964

About The Artist

The works of Georges Jouve (1910–1964) are among the most striking examples of 20th century European ceramics. Born in Fontenay-sous-Bois, France, Jouve went on to study sculpture and history of art in Paris at the prestigious École Boulle. He remained in Paris after graduating and worked as a set designer until the Second World War struck. During the Nazi occupation of northern France, Jouve was captured and interned in a work camp. Eventually escaping, he made his way south to the Vichy government-controlled region of the country, where he lived with his stepparents.

Once ensconced in the so-called ‘Free Zone’, Jouve began to learn about the traditional ceramic work made by potters in the area. Inspired by their craft, he embarked on his own decorative works. His first attempts, made with clay, drew inspiration from the religious figures that predominated in the locale. He began experimenting with more sensuous, hourglass shapes, modeled directly after the female body. The origins of Jouve’s later work can be traced back to these early influences for, while more abstract, his mature ceramics retain these elegant, curved forms.

In 1944, Jouve was able to return to Paris, where he established his ceramic studio. Jouve soon attracted an illustrious clientele, drawn to the originality and rustic simplicity of his work. Expanding from vases and bowls to lamps and tables, Jouve continued to employ a powerful palette of black, white, deep orange and red. His pieces are characterized by their smooth, rounded surfaces in which hollows and voids occasionally feature. He employed layers of matte enamel glazes to achieve a dense, opaque effect and favored rich block colors over pattern, which suited the elemental nature of his designs. Jouve’s interest in Japanese art accounts for the often asymmetrical appearance of his designs. This, along with the luxurious quality of his work, has rendered comparisons to renowned modernist designer Eileen Gray, who also worked in Paris at this time.

Jouve began collaborating with the most celebrated decorators in Paris, such as Jacques Adnet, Paule Marrot and Mathieu Matégot. His work came to widespread attention with its inclusion in major exhibitions organized by the furniture company Compagnie des Arts Français. After this, he featured in international presentations at the Association Français d'Action Artistique in Toronto, Vienna, Rio de Janeiro, Cairo and Rome. Both decorative and functional, Jouve’s versatile pieces continue to be enjoyed today and have featured in the homes of noted modernist designers such as Oscar Niemeyer.

“Georges Jouve,” artsy.com, Web. Jan, 11. 2017 “Georges Jouve 13.11.2004 –29.01.2005,” jousse-entreprise.com, Web. Jan, 11. 2017 Webb, M., Street-Porter, T., Modernist Paradise: Niemeyer House. Rizzoli, 2007. 29.

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