|Acquisition Number: 2020.15
Glazed porcelain with overglaze details
9 x 13 x 10 1/2 in.
Credit: Purchased by the Canton Museum of Art
Believe it or not, this entire piece is handmade from porcelain. Many of the objects in Shaw's trompe l'oeil (fool the eye) sculptures reference items that have been overlooked or disregarded. Shaw’s use of Willow ware and Canton Ware nods to ceramic history and porcelain's diminishing status. The blue-and-white pottery became cheaply produced in the US during the 1930s and easily obtained at Woolworth’s department store, where his family shopped. The ware was slip cast and used an industrial image-transfer system. His use of this ware references a link in the long history of porcelain’s ranging value, production, technology, and distribution. The objects in Shaw's sculpture are hand-thrown and painted to appear to be in the style of Cantonware. They spill out of a trompe l’oeil cigar box, where they might be stored and appear to have been broken as they've spilled out. The piece has all the humor of Shaw's best work, but also references ceramic history as well.
"Canton Creamware" was made as a mishap. It appears as though the pieces are spilling out of a cigar box. Prior to the 1800s, Canton Ware was the only export of the Chinese to Europe and was typically painted in landscape motifs in blue enamel. Shaw mimics these forms by painting his own interpretations of the motifs.