CHRIS ANTEMANN: An Occasion to Gather

By Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens Washington, D.C. | February 19 - June 26, 2022

In conjunction with the exhibition The Luxury of Clay: Porcelain Past and Present, organized by Rebecca Tilles, Curator of 18th-century Western European Art, a selection of contemporary ceramics by artist Chris Antemann can be viewed interspersed among the objects from Hillwood’s permanent collection in the dining and breakfast rooms on the first floor of the mansion. The installation is the fourth in a series of Hillwood collaborations with contemporary ceramicists including Eva Zeisel (2005), Bouke de Vries (2019), and Vladimir Kanevsky (2021). On view through June 26, 2022.

Images courtesy of Hillwood & Ferrin Contemporary

An Occasion to Gather

Installation at Hillwood Estate, Museum, & Gardens

Chris Antemann’s elaborate porcelain centerpiece—depicting a host of partially clad revelers gathered around a table under an impressive porcelain temple—is a celebration of the eighteenth-century banqueting craze among European elites. Antemann takes inspiration from historical engravings and eighteenth-century Meissen centerpieces, including the Temple of Love, designed by Johann Joachim Kändler while the factory’s chief modeler.

A Stage for Dessert

Installation at Hillwood Estate & Gardens

“An Occasion to Gather” Chris Antemann’s porcelain centerpiece, is filled with 18th-century style ceramic sweets, takes inspiration from the garden sculptures and eighteenth-century design of Hillwood’s French parterre. As with the dining room table display, here Antemann references eighteenth-century dining culture and the porcelain centerpieces commonly used as table decoration by European elites.

In the adjacent breakfast room,

Harbor (AP)

More on the Collaboration with MEISSEN  •  HERE  •

I am fascinated by 18th-century porcelain figures and what made them so popular: a culture of ritual at the court, with its costumes, powdered wigs, painted faces, and that infatuation with banquets and the extremely complex way of presenting serving platters ‘à la française’ at feasts or receptions. I use the esthetic of those figurines, very modish in France at that time, to recount and parody the relationship between men and women in society or seduction.

-Chris Antemann


View More by Chris Antemann  •  HERE  •

Chris Antemann is known for work inspired by 18th-century porcelain figurines, employing a unity of design and concept to simultaneously examine and parody male and female relationship roles. Characters, themes, and incidents build upon each other, effectively forming their own language that speaks about domestic rites, social etiquette, and taboos. Themes from the classics and the romantics are given a contemporary edge; elaborate dinner parties, picnic luncheons, and ornamental gardens set the stage for her twisted tales to unfold.



The allure of porcelain has beguiled collectors and others for centuries. Challenging as well as costly to produce, porcelain’s material qualities—impermeable, extremely hard, translucent, and a brilliant white—brought it great esteem early on. Porcelain originated in China, and the competition to manufacture it in Europe was fierce. European manufactories often appropriated designs from one another and recruited workers from their rivals with knowledge of the long-guarded formula.

The Luxury of Clay: Porcelain Past and Present traces the discovery and early history of porcelain in western Europe and Russia in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries while also highlighting Marjorie Merriweather Posts’s interest in porcelain objects and the pieces she acquired. Juxtaposed to historical porcelain wares are a selection of contemporary ceramics taking cues from porcelain traditions and historical models from Europe and Asia.

Throughout the exhibition works by the contemporary artists and ceramists Cindy Sherman (b. 1954), Bouke de Vries (b. 1960) and Chris Antemann (b. 1971) underscore the continued inspiration and influence of historical porcelain on artists today.


Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens Related Programs

Explore stories behind porcelain past and present.


In this lecture celebrating the installation of two elaborate centerpieces in the dining and breakfast rooms as part of The Luxury of Clay: Porcelain Past and Present, artist Chris Antemann describes the development of her ceramic artwork inspired by eighteenth-century porcelain figures.

Rebecca Tilles, curator, explores the porcelain collections of Consuelo Vanderbilt (1877-1964), Anna Thompson Dodge (1871-1970), and Marjorie Merriweather Post (1887-1973), Hillwood’s founder.