Sculptures in clay; Hertha Hillfon ceramics

hertha hillfon sculpture 'the journey' 1959 in stoneware
hertha hillfon ceramic sculpture 'the journey' 1959

Here is a brief introduction of another personal favourite. Hertha Hillfon can, alongside Anders Bruno Liljefors be said to be a pioneer of modern Swedish ceramic free sculpture. In my opinion HH is one of the most important exponents of Swedish ceramic art and one of the most influential female artists in Sweden during the 20th century. Her work is distinctive and highly personal, made of earthenware or stoneware, sometimes in seemingly simple shapes, grand lines, and little detail. Sometimes eagerly kneaded, rolled, or nervously cut and assembled from small pieces. Sometimes with colourful glazes, but often completely unglazed. Her works range from everyday objects in the form of bowls, jugs and even furniture, she produces her own household ceramics, to tender and expressive sculptures and masks of her family and Other significant people in her life.

For long periods, she has worked only with public commissions in colossal format. Often her Pieces are not named nor signed, she considers comments to them redundant, the works speak for themselves, or remain an enigma. Artists such as Edgar Böckman, who was also her teacher at the Konstfack School  1953-57, Patrick Nordstrom, Wilhelm Kåge, Tyra Lundgren and Anders Bruno Liljefors can be said to represent the quality craftsmanship and artistic imagination that preceded what HH showed at her first appearance at the Swedish handicrafts association exhibition ’Form i centrum’1958.

Her pieces attracted considerable attention and some annoyance. About HH's first solo exhibition at Gallery Artek in 1959, Ulf Hård af Segerstad, Sweden's foremost critic at the time, writes that she has "claimed a new ceramic turf alongside the traditional, more unproven, maybe a tad uncertain, but certainly exciting, free, sculptural ceramics ".  Critics often refer to HH as a sculptor, while she has Always refered to herself as a ceramist first and foremost.

Since the exhibition at Artek in 1959, she has done hundreds of solo exhibitions, the last being a major retrospective exhibition at Waldemars udde in 2007. Through the years she has been appreciated with many awards and honours, amongst Otters she has won the Lunning Prize and been named a member of the Swedish Royal Academy of Fine Arts, as one of very few women. HH's works are on display in many public places in Sweden as well as at art museums worldwide. Her work appears occasionally on auctions but most of the best Pierces are in the hands of private collectors or museums. Some she has kept for herself, and some you'll find in Studio gallery.

Sculptural ceramics by Hertha Hillfon

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