Abstract motifs in ceramic design




Harris Cies handcrafted studio abstract vase

Height -11 inches


Dan mask detour


In 1907, Picasso’s fortuitous wrong turn at the Musée d’Ethnographie in Paris, led him to the sacred Dan masks of West Africa, which had a profound influence on him. He later stated that ‘Painting isn’t an aesthetic operation,’ ‘It is a way of seizing the power by giving form to our terrors as well as our desires. Men had made these masks and other objects for a sacred purpose, a magic purpose, as a kind of mediation between themselves and the unknown hostile forces, in order to overcome their fear and horror by giving it an image. When I came to that realisation, I knew I had found my way.’ This was the same year he developed the revolutionary Cubist art along with George Braques and was one of the first forms of abstract art in the West.
Preceding this was Cezanne’s abandonment of the tradition of perspective drawing and concern for the reflection of reality, which encouraged future forays into the the abstract. For the early abstractionists like Paul Klee, Wassily Kandinsky, Alexander Archipenko, Juan Gris and Joan Miro, their abstract art clearly implied expression of ideas concerning the spiritual, the subconscious, and the contentious.


Alexander-Archipenko-female modernist sculpture - The Bather

Alexander Archipenko – ‘Bathing Woman’, 1915

Plaster on wire frame



Cubism originated in France but spread across Europe and integrated with the artistic consciousness of several countries. It emerged as Futurism in Italy, Vorticism in England, Suprematism and Constructivism in Russia, and Expressionism in Germany. The Cubists wanted to make pictures that reached beyond the rigid geometry of perspective, as an image drawn from a fixed position, had a frozen conclusion. The Cubists challenged conventional forms of visual representation with a more dynamic presentation of omni perspectives. Cubism was the first abstract style of modern art. The manipulation of non naturalistic colors and bold brushwork by the Fauvists and in Orphism also added to the growth of abstraction at the turn of this century.


Yoshiro-Ikeda-ceramic-sculpture with textures

Yoshiro Ikeda ceramic sculpture


Charles Catteau was integrating abstract concepts into his ceramic decorations as early as 1905 while Joan Miro was also applying hand painted abstract motifs to his ceramic pieces. In 1922 Kazimir Malevich and his followers actively spread the ideas of Suprematism at the State Porcelain Factory in Petrograd. As early as 1900, Gallelio Chini was approaching abstracted designs with the Italian ‘Liberty’ (Art Nouveau) movement. Mid century ceramicists were attracted to the freestyle groovy designs of skewed perspective and asymmetrical patterns that contributed to defining the modernist style. The abstract complexity of the 30’s and 40’s became more simplified in the 50’s and 60’s and in the process became more marketable, which fueled a huge movement of wonderfully original designs on decorative objects, many hand drawn. The aspired freedom of this era manifested in designs of spontaneity and simplified minimalist detail. A large number of artists in the Mid Century adapted to this free expression in pottery styles. Some notable proponents were Guido Gambone, Fratelli Fanciullacci, Gilbert Valentin, F. Carlton Ball, Corrado Cagli, Marcello Fantoni, Roger Capron and Nils Thorsson. Then there was Picasso’s abstract ceramic work at Madoura in the 60’s which attracted many Parisian ceramic artists to Vallauris who added to the proliferation of  modernist ceramic pieces.




Gorcisnitsa Ikchasnik Supermatist jar




Mary-Ray---Art-Cafe---2009 abstract vessel

Mary Ray—  ‘Art Cafe’




Blue-Nude-Tumbler.-Henri-Matisse-inspired - Etsy StiffWristClay

Blue Nude Tumbler. Henri Matisse inspired

Etsy StiffWristClay



Henri Matisse vase with naked female danincg

Ovoid vase – Henri Matisse – 1907

Matisse wrote, “We move towards serenity through the simplification of ideas and form…….Details lessen the purity of lines, they harm the emotional intensity, and we choose to reject them. It is a question of learning – and perhaps relearning the ‘handwriting’ of lines. The aim of painting is not to reflect history, because this can be found in books. We have a higher conception. Through it, the artist expresses his inner vision.”



Matthew Wade



Lamp policroma abstract  —  Ciavardoni

1950 Albisola, Italy




Galileo-Chini-italian vase in blue and white with fish edges

Galileo Chini, 1900




‘The Tamer’ – Corrado Cagli for Ceramiche Rometti, Umbria



Galileo-Chini-Art Nouveau vase

Galileo Chini, 1900




Ernabella-Arts-ceramics vase Vivian Thompson, Kungkarangkalpa (Seven Sisters)

Vivian Thompson, ‘Kungkarangkalpa (Seven Sisters)’




Lapid-Mid-Century-Pottery vessel with abstract motif

Lapid Mid Century Pottery, Tel Aviv




Marc Bellaire California Pottery Muted Corals bowl  with black Balinese dancer



Italian Mid Century abstract motif vase

Italian Mid Century abstract motif vase



Charles Catteau ceramic jazz age vase

Charles Catteau – stylized floral decorative Jazz Age vase



Modernist motif plate-Krzysztof-in-Walbrzych, Poland

Modernist motif plate — Krzysztof in Walbrzych, Poland



abstract Charels Catteau vase

Charles Catteau, Boch Freres, 1925





Abstract Jazz Age Cubist Deco vessel – Charles Catteau





Vase with stylized-floral-motifs,-jasper - Charles Catteau

Charles Catteau vase




carlton-ball sgraffito decorated vase

F.Carlton Ball



gambone-guido-1909 ceramic lamp base abstract figure

                                                                                                                                                                     Guido Gambone




Ceramic water pitcher - WEG Pottery

WEG pottery ceramic jug




black white terracotta vase - Picasso

Pablo Picasso pitcher



Marianne-Starck-for-Michael-Andersen-&-Son White dove on black ceramic jug

Marianne Starck for Michael Andersen & Son



thrown-stoneware Anne Mortier with teal green abstract motif on white

Footed vessel, thrown stoneware – Anne Mortier



White Vessel with Signs-1990- Gordon Bladwin

‘White Vessel with Signs’ – Gordon Baldwin




CEramic sculpture - Cloud-2’,-1996-Gordon-Baldwin

 ‘Cloud 2’ – Gordon Baldwin




Jojan Miro ceramic vase with abstract hand-drawn decoration

Joan Miro




Joan Miro in his Barcelona studio

Photo Mark Shaw LIFE, 1955



Mid Century 16 inch plate – Tony Morris




Donyale Luna in a linked disc abstract dress by Paco Rabanne. Photo: Guy Bourdin





Alison-Britton ceramic vessel with abstract decoration

Alison Britton




Alison-Britton-abstract ceramic vessel with asymmetrical form

Alison Britton



‘Picasso—Woman Lying on a Chaise’ — Ceramic Box by Goebel



Anelise-Bredow ceramic vessels with bullseye motifs

Anelise Bredow



Mid Century ceramic jar  – Clyde Burt




Steve-Czerniel flared vase

Steve Czerniel



beautiful-sascha-brastoff-black-&-white-dancing-nudes-ashtray vintage

Sascha Brastoff



Mid Century vase, Deruta, Italy




Art Deco modernist  vase – Charles Catteau




Boyan-Moskov twin lug vesssel with abstract motif

Boyan Moskov




Camilla-Ward slab built ceramic vessel

Camilla Ward




Carolyn-Genders ceramic abstract form and decorated vaseCarolyn Genders



Red, black, yellow and orange abstract vase - Carolyn-Genders

Carolyn Genders

Studio Pottery, UK




Large abstract vase in the garden - Carolyn-Genders

Carolyn Genders

Ceramics in the Garden – Carolyn Genders

No Description




Carstens-Vase lava glaze Mid Century

Carstens lava glaze Vase




Daffodil Blossoms- Boyan Mosko Ceramic Vase - Artful Home red, yellow, white and cream squat vessel

‘Daffodil Blossoms’ – Boyan Mosko



Delphis-and-Poole-Studio ceramic platter

Delphis and Poole Studio

Rob’s Poole Pottery


Iincised Doodle Bottle - Red and Black Boyan Moskov-

‘Doodle Bottle – Red and Black’ –  Boyan Moskov




Ernabella-Arts-ceramics Tjimpuna Williams Ngayuku Walka stoneware with terrasigilatta

Tjimpuna Williams Ngayuku Walka stoneware with terrasigilatta




F. Carlton Ball and Aaron Bohrod Glazed Stoneware Vessel,




Gregg-Rasmusson ceramic vessel

Gregg Rasmusson



john-m-donoghue lidded jar and abstract decoration

John M Donoghue



Gustavo Perez Mexican abstract ceramics

Gustavo Perez



Mid Century Guido Gambone-italy-narrow-vase

Guido Gambone, Italy



pod vessel Gregg Rasmusson

Gregg Rasmusson, St. Louis

Greg Rasmusson Ceramics




Floris Meydam Gouda Ruimte-vase

Floris Meydam  ‘Ruimte’ vase for Gouda, Netherlands




Jaap Dommisse




Natalya-Sots-plate with an abstract cat

Abstract cat – Natalya Sots




Boyan-Moskov ceramic ovojd pod vessel

Boyan Moskov




Jim Mulfinger, 2010 - Miro inspired black slip sgrafitto over porcelain with clear glaze thrown and altered vase

Miro inspired black slip sgrafitto over porcelain with clear glaze thrown and altered vase – Jim Mulfinger




Penny Evens Australian indigenous art vessel

Penny Evans




Poole Pottery ceramic dish

Poole Pottery, 50’s

Rob’s Poole Pottery



Raine-Middleton sgraffito ceramic skyline jug

Raine Middleton

Hartzog Pottery by Raine



Abstract-Vallauris-Ceramic-Vase - turquoise

Abstract motif Vallauris Ceramic Vase by Borty



Marty-Ray---The-Neighborhood ceramic vase

Marty Ray — ‘The Neighborhood’





Abstract bullseye vessel – Ryan Peters



Turquoise vessel with white stylized-floral-motifs and black bands

Charles Catteau, 1930’s



Royal-Copenhagen ceramic vesse

Royal Copenhagen




Fnils Thorsson Mid Century vase

Fnils Thorsson, Royal Copenhagen




Sam-Scott black and white abstract motif plate

Sam Scott



Seymour-Lipton-Sea-King-1955 Bronze sculpture

Seymour Lipton – ‘Sea King’





Ultra Large Gorrogarah binjdil Morning Platter—Penny Evans




Vase by Boyan Moscov

Meredith Gallery



Vivian Thompson Kungkarangkalpa (Seven Sisters) stoneware with terrasigilatta

Vivian Thompson Kungkarangkalpa (Seven Sisters) stoneware with terrasigilatta



West German incised sgraffito glaze lidded jar red and blue

West German incised sgraffito glaze lidded jar





Gouda Rumba Flora art pottery vase



moderniat vases Denise-&-Peter-Orlando

Denise & Peter Orlando

circa 1950-60



Joan-Miro vase

Joan Miro




Michael Wein – Picasso tribute porcelain platter

M.Wein Raku Pottery



Pablo Picasso Madoura vase

Picasso Madoura vase, Vallauris




Italian Mid Century Ravelli Colorite vase




Pottery La Colombe pitcher




Bay Bodo Mans 1950s huge floor vase




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