This spring, the Lightner Museum’s grand ballroom gallery will be transformed by a dramatic ceramic centerpiece created from thousands of fragments of white porcelain.
War & Pieces is a monumental sculpture created by London-based Dutch artist Bouke de Vries. A former conservator of ceramics, de Vries uses broken ceramics as the primary medium for his artwork, celebrating the “beauty of destruction” through his fragmentary sculptures.
De Vries’ War & Pieces is a contemporary interpretation of the decorative sculptures that adorned Seventeenth- and Eighteenth-Century banquet tables. During the era, the ruling classes set their tables for the dessert course with elaborate centerpieces painstakingly fashioned from costly sugar. These whimsical structures depicted classical allegories, grand battles, and architectural follies. Over time, the fragile confectionary creations were replaced with porcelain, fabricated by the leading manufacturers of the day including Meissen and Sèvres, who used skilled confectioners as their first modelers.
De Vries reinvents this tradition, creating a provocative battle scene where sugar, historic porcelain, and modern plastic wage a war of materials, eras, cultures, and values.