REVIVE, REMIX, RESPOND February 17–May 27, 2018The Frick Pittsburgh7227 Reynolds St., Pittsburgh, PA 412-371-0600 About the Exhibition In 2017, twenty contemporary artists were invited to respond to and produce new...

War and Pieces

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...

Bouke de Vries is a Dutch-born ceramic artist currently living and working in London. He has lived a life that is much like his artwork — a mash-up of old world skills that he uses to remix, reorder, and deliver overt contemporary satire and social commentary. The  reverse of Ai Weiwei, who dramatically dropped the Han dynasty urn to make a point about the loss of history, de Vries puts the broken back together to re-contextualize the past.

de Vries applies gold (kintsugi technique) to highlight the cracks of exploded ceramic matter to create new meaning and added value to shattered ceramic vessels and figurines, archeological finds, sunken treasure, and scavenged beach shards. Sad stories of accidents, disasters, mistakes, and loss become new triumphs. Using the skills of the conservator and reversible but miraculously strong adhesives, deVries actually does put Humpty Dumpty back together again.

With his skillful touch and biting wit, de Vries’ shards come to life to deliver a humorous punch or social commentary. de Vries’ career, like his work, is exploding.


STATEMENT – below is a draft of a statement I am proposing to go with the images we are featuring.  I summarized and edited from the ones in the catalog. If I am on the right track, great, I’ll work on it further. Please comment, correct or suggest ideas – it needs to be short and easy to read.

War & Pieces is an eight-metre, 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.

War & Pieces has been exhibited at ten venues in Europe and Asia, beginning in 2012 at the Holburne Museum in Bath, England with support from the Arts Council of Great Britain. At each venue, de Vries worked with the curators and the collection by responding to the region, its history and interact with the interior settings. In some he was able add to the installation using relevant objects from the collection. The image featured is the setting of Charlottenburg Palace, which was looted in the Seven Years’ War and almost completely destroyed in the Second World War adding a special meaning to the era spanning work.

In 2018, it will begin a museum tour in North America.

Born in Utrecht, The Netherlands, Bouke de Vries studied at the Design Academy Eindhoven, and Central St Martin’s, London. After working with John Galliano, Stephen Jones and Zandra Rhodes, he switched careers and studied ceramics conservation and restoration at West Dean College. He has been a full time studio artist since 2010.

Born Utrecht, The Netherlands

1978–81     Design Academy, Eindhoven
1981–2     Central School of Art, London
1989–92     West Dean College

1981–3     Stephen Jones Millinery
1983-85     John Galliano
1985-89     Zandra Rhodes
1992–     Self-employed ceramics conservator
2009–     Artist


Croome Park re-defined, installation piece for National Trust
Galerie Ron Mandos, Amsterdam, solo show


RE — Reanimate, Repair, Mend and Meld, Ferrin Contemporary, North Adams, MA
Asia-Amsterdam, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA
War and Pieces, Hetjens Museum, Düsseldorf

Blue and White, Ariana Museum, Geneva, group show
War and Pieces, Gemeente Museum den Haag, solo presentation
Skelet, Beelden aan zee, The Hague, group show
Blue and White, Foundation Bernardaud, Limoges, group show
Re-animate, Repair Mend and Meld, Bluecoat Display Centre Liverpool, group show
Cheongju International Craft Biennale, Cheongju, Korea, presentation as part of the biennale
Sweet 18, Castle Hingene, Belgium, group show
Fragments, Chateau de Nyon, Switzerland, solo show

Taiwan Ceramics Biennale, Taipei
Threads of my Life, Gloria Maria Gallery, Milan, solo show
Re-Used, Galerie Ron Mandos, Amsterdam, group show

Old Master Dialogues, Collyer Bristow Gallery, London, group show
Art South: collaborations, Southampton Art Gallery, Southampton
Aspex Gallery, Portsmouth
St Barbe’s, Lymington, solo presentation
Anders, Historisch Museum, Haarlem, Netherlands
War and Pieces, residency with Outset, Netherlands, Amsterdam
The Masks We Wear, ARTECO Gallery, group show
War and Pieces, Alnwick Castle, Alnwick, solo installation
Beastly Hall, Hall House, Bexley, group show
Gilles Balmet Collection, Medusa Caravage Salon, Nouvelles vagues, Galerie Dominique Fiat, group show
War and Pieces, Charlottenburg Palace, Berlin, solo Installation
Portretten op Buitenplaats Beeckestijn, Buitenplaats Beeckesijn, Velsen

Bow Selector, Pallant House, Chichester, solo installation
Mono No Aware, Bo Lee Gallery, Bath
Vanita/Contemporary Reflections, Moscow Museum of Modern Art, group show
Bad for You, Shizaru Gallery, group show
NL-Dutch Cultural Pop-Up Projects, group show
This is London, Shizaru Gallery, group show
War and Pieces, Holbourne Museum, Bath, solo Installation
WWF Pandemonium, Collabaration with Stephen Jones
The Korenbeurs, Schiedam, group show
Earthly Delights, Laleh June Gallery, Basel, group show
York City Art Gallery, York, group show
Waste, Tanya Rumpf Gallery, Haarlem, group show
Lot’s Wife, Salisbury Arts Centre, Salisbury, group show

Between Dimensions: The Representation of the Object, Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art, group show
Craft, Raiders of the Lost Art, Pertwee Anderson & Gold, London, group show
Chezlegrandbag, Art&Rapy, Monaco, group show
The Return, The House of a Nobleman, London, group showSigns (Metamorphosis), Gloria Maria Gallery, Milan, solo show
Precious, Art at Anoushka, London, solo show
Fire, Works, Vegas Gallery, London, solo show
Roulette, Vegas Gallery, London, group show
Rose Meditative, Laleh June Galerie, Basel, group show
Questions of Belongings, MIMA, Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art, group show

Contemporary Eye, Crossovers, Pallant House, Chichester, group show
Vanitas: The Transience of Earthly Pleasures, All Visual Arts at 33 Portland Place, London, group show
Pieces, Super Window Project, Kyoto, solo show
The Borrowed Loop, Man & Eve Gallery, London, group show
A Grand Tour of my Mind, Gloria Maria Gallery, Milan, solo show
Deconstructions, Galerie Ron Mandos, Amsterdam, solo show

Emerging Artists, Murmur Art/Flora Fairburn Productions
Selfridges, London, group show

Aberdeen Art Gallery
The Ariana, Geneva, Switzerland
Caldic collection, Netherlands
Collection Edgar J. and Clarissa Bronfman, London
Collection Hugo Brown, The Netherlands
Collection Elton John, London/Los Angeles
Collection Taiq Al Jaidah
Collection Kay Saatchi, Los Angeles
Collection Frances Reynolds, London
Le Chateau de Nyon, Nyon, Switzerland
MIMA, Middlesbrough
MONA, Tasmania
MUDAC, Lausanne, Switzerland
Ministry of foreign affairs Netherlands
Pallant House Gallery
Peabody Essex Museum, Salem
York City Art Gallery
Zabludowicz Collection, London


REVIVE, REMIX, RESPONDThe Frick Pittsburgh 7227 Reynolds Street, Pittsburgh Group show of contemporary artists who are breathing new life into the ceramic medium by reinvigorating age-old motifs, processes, and techniques....

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Bouke de Vries: War and Pieces



The Golden Box: Bouke de Vries

Bouke de Vries: Fragments






BOUKE DE VRIES: WAR AND PIECES VIEW ALL CATALOGS Bouke de Vries' contemporary interpretation of the decorative sculptures that adorned 17th- and 18th-century banqueting tables. War & Pieces is an...