BOUKE DE VRIES: WAR AND PIECES

Bouke de Vries’ contemporary interpretation of the decorative sculptures that adorned 17th- and 18th-century banqueting tables.

War & Pieces is an eight-meter (26-foot) installation by Dutch-born artist Bouke de Vries inspired by the sophisticated figural centerpieces that decorated eighteenth-century European rulers’ banqueting tables. Displayed during the dessert course on special occasions, these figures first made of sugar and later increasingly porcelain, told stories or conveyed political messages to the diners.

Bouke de Vries draws on such traditions in his modern centerpiece, arranged around the mushroom cloud from a nuclear explosion whose force appears to have turned the entire table into a wasteland. Battle rages across this heap of shards old and new, fought by myriad miniature figures with conventional arms. Jesus on the cross and the Chinese Buddhist goddess of compassion, Guanyin, watch over the death and destruction.

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