Arlene Shechet

Link to video of Meredith Martin lecture

Popular among European elites during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries but also present in Asia and Africa, the “porcelain room” was a unique architectural phenomenon associated with expanding global trade, intercultural curiosity, and consumerism. Martin’s talk explores its history and its echoes in Porcelain, No Simple Matter: Arlene Shechet and the Arnhold Collection.

photo of white porcelain dish decorated with large red dragon and cup-like objects
Porcelain, No Simple Matter: Arlene Shechet and the Arnhold Collection
May 24, 2016 to April 2, 2017

The Frick presents a year-long exhibition exploring the complex history of making, collecting, and displaying porcelain. Included are about one hundred pieces produced by the renowned Royal Meissen manufactory, which led the ceramic industry in Europe, both scientifically and artistically, during the early to mid-eighteenth century. Most of the works date from 1720 to 1745 and were selected by New York-based sculptor Arlene Shechet from the promised gift of Henry H. Arnhold. Sixteen works in the exhibition are Shechet’s own sculptures — exuberant porcelain she made during a series of residencies at the Meissen manufactory in 2012 and 2013. Designed by Shechet, the exhibition avoids the typical chronological or thematic order of most installations in favor of a personal and imaginative approach that creates an intriguing dialogue between the historical and the contemporary. With nature as the dominant theme, the exhibition is presented in the Frick’s Portico Gallery, which overlooks the museum’s historic Fifth Avenue Garden. Porcelain, No Simple Matter: Arlene Shechet and the Arnhold Collection is organized by Charlotte Vignon, Curator of Decorative Arts, The Frick Collection.