birds of a feather

June 30, 2020

I came across the beautifully anthropomorphic ceramics of Jean Derval today, and immediately I thought about Picasso. Constant comparisons to another artist can’t be easy, especially an artistic titan like Picasso. The two men worked together –– Derval trained with Picasso in the late 40s at the famous Madoura workshop –– and Picasso’s influence is evident. In 1951, Derval founded his own studio, Le Portail and gradually moved from domestic pottery to sculpture. The truth is, Picasso’s influence runs through most artists because his work spanned so many years (he was wildly prolific) and because he explored so many genres and styles over his 80-year career. What an artist like Derval does with that influence, and all the many other things that inform his process, is what makes the work unique. As Mark Twain said, “There is no such thing as a new idea. It is impossible. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope. We give them a turn and they make new and curious combinations. We keep on turning and making new combinations indefinitely; but they are the same old pieces of coloured glass that have been in use through all the ages.” As original as Picasso was, he also drew from the many inspirations around him. No doubt, that inspiration included the work of the many artists he inspired.


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