The Loewe Foundation hosted an evening of intricate craft at The Noguchi Museum in Queens, New York on Tuesday night, culminating in Japanese ceramicist Eriko Inazaki winning the Loewe Foundation Craft Prize for 2023.
“The reason why I chose this location is I’ve been at Loewe for 10 years now and when I first did a show for Loewe, I did it at Unesco in Paris. That garden there is done by Noguchi, so when we were looking at venues, I thought there was something that really was book-ended somehow, it made sense to have it here,” creative director Jonathan Anderson said during a midday tour of the museum and 30 finalists’ craft works ahead of the evening’s event.
More from WWD
“In our stores, we have a lot of the original lamps in the collection; it’s Noguchi, he’s one of my favorite sculptors. I think the space — when I come to New York, it’s such a peaceful part of New York. There’s something about it that’s very calming. I think as well, its utility toward craft — as much as you see the sculptures, there’s something about the make and the hand of the pieces,” Anderson continued.
Established in 2016 by Anderson, the craft prize is a tribute to Loewe’s roots as a collective craft workshop in 1846 and a way “to celebrate excellence and artistic merit in modern craftsmanship, and to acknowledge the importance of craft in today’s culture,” Sheila Loewe, Loewe Foundation president, said during the awards presentation.
“While the prize is dedicated to keeping traditions alive, it’s also about innovation and creativity. The artists that we have here today are an amazing representation of this. The short-listed works on display this evening showcase our skillful manipulation and mastery of materials,” she said.
The sixth edition of the craft prize received 2,700 entries from 117 countries and regions. An expert international jury panel (noted by Loewe as leading figures of design, architecture, criticism, museum curatorship and architecture) selected 30 short-listed artists’ works from 16 countries. Each of the works — which include textiles, glass, metal, woodwork, jewelry, lacquer and paper — will be on display within Isamu Noguchi’s Studio at The Noguchi Museum from Wednesday until June 18. The 2023 Loewe Foundation Craft Prize was noted to be the first time a public exhibition will take place within the Long Island City space.
“If it were me, I would have it open for six months,” Anderson said of the public exhibit. “I like this idea that people are engaging with it, reacting to it, or seeing what they think, or what they like and didn’t like. As an exhibition, it’s really beautiful, especially in the context of the space — this idea of makers within the space of someone who uses an atelier. It gives an awareness to everyone who’s taking part. There’s a lot of people who come through and it might introduce different people to different artists, and this is the most important thing of the process.”
During the awards ceremony, Anderson brought forth special guest Fran Leibowitz to announce Inazaki as the Loewe Foundation Craft Prize 2023 winner for her hand-crafted ceramic work “Metanoia, 2019.”
“The jury — I’m not on the jury — the jury commented on her exceptional take on ornamentation in ceramics such as that has never been seen before. The work’s virtuosity creates a spell-binding presence that commands the exhibition space and inspires wonder, congratulations,” Leibowitz said.
Inazaki, through a translator, said: “I’m not clear about naming my works, whether it’s art, craft or something else. But I know a good piece of work goes beyond the boundaries of categories. This was an opportunity for me to realize that my work would resonate with so many people.”
“It was the detail and meticulous nature,” Abraham Thomas, curator of modern architecture, design and decorative arts at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and two-time Loewe Foundation Craft Prize jury member, told WWD of the piece.
“You can’t even imagine it’s ceramic. How you would fire porcelain with such thin filaments? And it’s organic as well. When you look at the details, there’s intricate geometries. It was really carefully thought through and I loved the contrast of the vase. I love how the whole thing felt like a sea anemone or something quite fantastical — it excites that feeling of fascination. So it’s the combination of skill, process, materiality, ingenuity but within all that, you can see she’s drawn upon the history of ceramics as well the idea of creating these spectacular pieces, or showstoppers,” Thomas said. “Being at The Met as a curator, the contemporary, that’s what I love, but we have that opportunity to showcase the work of modern and contemporary makers in the context of historical collections. I love how the Loewe prize also provokes those dialogues of the past.”
“It’s a hard process because everyone has their favorites and you have to somehow come to a conclusion, but I enjoy it because I feel you see things in different works that you don’t see but someone else does. I think this is what I find remarkable, because I’ve had moments today where I have been more wooed to something by listening to someone speak about it with compassion,” Anderson said of the deliberation process. “We’ve got an amazing jury of people who come from all different walks of life, who have worked in some of the biggest institutions in the world, and who really believe in the prize.”
Honorable mentions were given to Dominique Zinkpè for his large-scale wood and acrylic work, “The Watchers, 2022,” and to Moe Watanabe for her walnut bark work, “Transfer Surface, 2022” by jurors Magdalene Odundo, ceramicist, and Naoto Fukasawa, designer and director of the Japan Folk Crafts Museum in Tokyo.
“I feel it’s a huge commitment of Loewe for the foreseeable future to continue this prize, because I think it’s very important and as years go on, people are starting to realize the influence it has within the world of the arts,” Anderson said.
“In the long run, we will open a foundation in Barcelona. It is under a lot of constraints at the moment, but we are dealing with it. One day we will open a foundation which will be over four floors, it will be free to the public and it will mix craft, contemporary art, video and fashion. It will be this holistic space that will have two or three shows a year and that is where everything is housed. A lot of the works we do buy and they go into the stores globally, but at one point they will be pulled together into this fantasy project I have in my head that one day will be realized,” Anderson said.
Best of WWD