Feature Articles

November Issue 2000

Allan Chasanoff Collection at Mint Museum of Craft + Design


The 1995 gift of a 448-piece contemporary ceramic collection to Charlotte, NC's Mint Museum of Art by retired Manhattan real estate developer Allan Chasanoff became a factor in the Bank of America's 1997 decision to convert the foreclosed Montaldo Department Store into the recently opened Mint Museum of Craft + Design.

Linda Gunn-Russell ------------------------------------------- Peter Vandenberge

"Allan Chasanoff's magnificent collection provided the critical mass that enabled the Mint Museum to lend credence to the idea for a craft museum in Charlotte's burgeoning downtown cultural district," credited Mark Leach, Director of the Mint Museum of Craft + Design.

Wayne Higby ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Georges Jeanclos

It has taken five years to catalogue the eclectic array of artworks that range widely in content, form, artistic intent and achievement and to research the 240 artists represented from North America, Asia and Europe (sandwiched around opening the new craft museum on Jan. 10, 1999). The prolonged wait for contemporary ceramic aficionados will end with the opening of "Selections from the Allan Chasanoff Ceramic Collection" at the Mint Museum of Craft + Design, on view from Nov. 4 through May 27, 2001. The exhibition will be accompanied by a fully-illustrated publication, available at the Museum Shop or by calling 704/337-2038, and at the Mint's interactive web site at (http://www.mintmuseum.org/chasanoff). The exhibition dates also coincide with the 35th Annual Conference of the National Council for Education in Ceramic Art (NCECA) to be held at the Charlotte Convention Center Mar. 28-31, 2001.

"From our first meeting it was clear that Allan Chasanoff was not a typical art collector," stated Garth Clark, ceramics historian and owner of the Garth Clark Gallery in New York City. "He neither collects to build a trove of masterpieces (although he has done that anyway) nor collects to satisfy a social agenda...Rather he explores relationships between objects...Specifically, he is fascinated by how the accumulation of shapes, surfaces, subjects, issues and process reveals linkages, both expected and unexpected."

Babs Haenen -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Marc Leuthold

Visitors to the exhibition can expect to see sculpture, vessels and variations on traditional decorative art forms. Areas of focus are wide-ranging and document developments in the 1970s, '80s and '90s. These include figurative sculpture, fanciful teapots and soup tureens, the delicacy of British work, Yixing, and American styles of trompe l'oeil, west coast Funk art, organic abstraction and deconstructed vessels. Sculptures such as Judy Fox's lifelike baby Einstein, Stephen DeStaebler's pair of monolithic sculptures Standing Man and Seated Woman, and John Roloff's mineral encrusted Snow Wave/Frozen Ship have pushed the envelope for ceramic expression. Equally impressive are the palm-sized vessels by Angela Verdon, Ursula Morley Price and Geoffrey Swindell.

"Viewing the Chasanoff Collection - reading it - is like an endless game," remarked Mint curator Mary Douglas. "The artworks are like puzzle parts with no correct arrangement. Perhaps the point is to create new relationships and new meanings. The exhibition presents a slice of contemporary ceramics and identifies some important artists who have shaped the field."

Reflecting Chasanoff's particular interest, works from little known artists in the exhibition are as prevalent as works by acknowledged masters. Accomplished ceramic artists include Stephen DeStaebler, Ken Ferguson, Judy Fox, Viola Frey, Howard Kottler, Marilyn Levine, Andrew Lord, Michael Lucero, Paul Mathieu, Ron Nagle, Richard Notkin, Ken Price, Adrian Saxe, Richard Shaw, Toshiko Takaezu, Akio Takamori, Irv Tepper, Patti Bauer Warashina, Betty Woodman and Daisy Youngblood. Curator Mary Douglas selected 153 pieces of ceramic sculpture and vessels that demonstrate diverse creative approaches in scale, technique, purpose and artistic content and grouped objects thematically as trompe l'oeil, morphology, animal imagery, the figure, the vessel as body, specimens, structural imagery, fractured vessels and ritual vessels.

"Chasanoff's approach to collecting - content "über alles" - has enabled him to develop a highly tuned radar for the new," remarked Garth Clark. "As his understanding of chains of ideas increases, he can spot quickly when an artist has achieved originality."

For further info check our NC Institutional Gallery listings or call the museum at 704/337-2000 or visit the museum's web site at (http://www.mintmuseum.org).

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