Cultured Magazine

Fall 2014

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66 CULTURED Goodbye Sèvres, hello Ai Weiwei. Simon de Pury breaks the mold with "FIRE!," an exhibition of contemporary ceramics at Venus Over Manhattan. BY BROOK S. MASON PORTRAIT BY OLIVER MARK THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GAVEL imon de Pury, the London and New York-based art auctioneer and advisor extraordinaire has long proved his prowess in the hipster contemporary art world. Just this June at a charity auction in Cap d'Antibes, he reined in a staggering $15.2 million for Damien Hirst's Gone But Not Forgotten, a 10-foot-high, 10,000-year-old woolly-mammoth skeleton gilded in gold. But lately, de Pury, who's been dubbed "the man with the golden gavel" and snares mega-clients for his art advisory firm de Pury de Pury, has been venturing into an entirely new arena far beyond cutting-edge paintings, sculptures and installation art. This fall, de Pury is curating the exhibition "FIRE!" at Adam Lindemann's Venus Over Manhattan gallery. The show, on view from September 18 through November 1, is bound to cement contemporary ceramics and glasswork onto the global collecting axis. Until recently, only a relatively closed circle of collectors such as Lord Rothschild and the Duke of Devonshire gravitated toward contemporary clay and glass. "While Picasso turned out a prodigious number of vessels and platters, ceramics by a new generation of artists have been relatively under the radar," de Pury says. "I wanted to expose a broader range of collectors to this field, as there's been a renaissance in this area." Billionaire gallery honcho, financier and art collector Lindemann reports de Pury is right on target about this niche specialty undergoing a radical shift. "I've seen how ceramics have gone from something totally fallen out of favor to today's artists tackling clay in new and novel ways," says Lindemann. Of late, contemporary ceramics are scoring a high at auction. Consider British artist Edmund de Waal. At a Phillips New York sale eight years ago, six small cylinders made a paltry $3,750; but just this past March, a set of five porcelain vessels soared to $43,750. Who's on de Pury's slate of not-to-miss artists? Top of the heap is Ai Weiwei, with his glazed pots of brilliant purple and chartreuse. Sterling Ruby, the L.A.-based conceptual artist who was just spotlighted at the Whitney Biennial, is represented by Sandal (4828), his 20-inch rendition of a Birkenstock in roughshod brown clay with a blazing red sole. Also Brooklynite Dan McCarthy, who throws pots with his own particular brand of whimsy. His Untitled Ceramic Facepot #81, a white glazed vessel painted with touches of gold, has a quirky grin. As for the exhibition's glasswork, it's hardly pedestrian. Take French- Lebanese artist Flavie Audi, whom de Pury just discovered. "A 2014 Royal College of Art grad, she's pushing the boundaries of glass and sculpture," says de Pury. Her 2014 Bright Clouds series is an amorphous sphere of black, blue and clear blown glass flecked with specks of silver. Those are just four of the artists on view at the "FIRE!" exhibition, and de Pury believes that collectors will pounce on the offerings. "All will be sold in a nanosecond," he says. S

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