Exhibition Sexy Ceramics

From 27 August the Princessehof National Museum of Ceramics in Leeuwarden presents a titillating exhibition about eroticism: Sexy Ceramics. Classical Greek vases, refined Asian porcelain and contemporary ceramics by artists such as Louise Bourgeois and Jessica Harrison escort the viewer into the world of sex and seduction. The exhibition follows the phases of love-play, from the first touch and gentle courtship to the act of lovemaking itself. Attention is paid to hidden symbols, evocative shapes and explicit objects, but also to the sensuality of the material, the clay itself.

All ceramics, from robust pottery to delicate porcelain, is made of clay that is shaped by human hands. Ceramists such as Irene Vonck, Anne Marie Laureys and Saturo Hoshino focus on the plasticity and sensuality of clay in their work. The renowned artist Alexandra Engelfriet covered the walls of an exhibition hall with clay, so that these exhibits are literally surrounded by the material. In addition, a film by the young Frisian artist Lotte Middendorp shows how she tries to merge with the tidal flats by entering the clay.


Historical images and hidden symbols are an important part of the exhibition. Courtesans, femmes fatales, alluring slippers and naughty pastoral scenes show a world full of temptation. Famous stories from the East and the West seem to be a great source of inspiration, such as the story of Adam and Eve and the famous Japanese novel about the dissolute life of Genji, a son of an Emperor.

The further the visitor advances into the exhibition, the more intensely the imagination is stimulated. The viewer is surrounded by bare breasts, rugged male bodies and graceful ladies. Works by Suzanne Posthumus, Michel Gouéry and Alder Westerloo, as well as Asian ceramics from the 18th and 19th centuries, portray the sensuality of the human body.


The exhibition reaches a climax with a peepshow as the fourth and final room. Tiles with erotic representations, pornographic porcelain objects and sculpted dildos leave little to the imagination. Here it becomes clear that through the centuries a lot of genitals and sex scenes have been depicted in ceramics. There are also contemporary works by Hans van Bentem, Carolein Smith and Adriaan Rees. Because of the explicit content this last room is only open to visitors aged 16 years and older.


For this exhibition the Princessehof will loan artworks from the collections of the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, the Groninger Museum and several private collectors. Venus Temple Sex Museum in Amsterdam will also provide a number of items, including a series of 19th-century pornographic slides. Perspekt Studios in Haarlem designed the exhibition and helped to develop the concept.

The exhibition Sexy Ceramics runs from 27 August 2016 to 9 July 2017 in the Princessehof National Museum of Ceramics in Leeuwarden. The exhibition is made possible by the Mondriaan Foundation, the Prince Bernhard Culture Fund, Stichting Woudsend Anno 1816, Stichting Van Achterbergh-Domhof, Stichting Het Nieuwe Stads Weeshuis, the Vereniging van Vrienden Keramiekmuseum and the Old Burger Weeshuis.

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