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Carl Harry Stålhane (1920 - 1990) is one of the most prominent figures in the Swedish ceramics movement, and one of our favourites. In this post we want to give particular attention to the period in Stålhanes career that we belive is his best and the one that most clearly shows his artistic expression.
All items shown below are unique and made in the mid 1960s. In the spring of 1960 Carl-Harry Stålhane showed stoneware at Galleri Blanche in Stockholm, an exhibition that was a manifestation of the coming of a ceramic counter-movement. "Here are the ceramics of the 60’s :heavy, primitive, rugged, dramatic," said Ulf Hard af Segerstad (Svenska Dagbladet, 29.4.60) and described Stålhane's vessels as a declaration of love for the natural materials in the plastics age.
In the early 1960's Stålhane drove his art towards larger sizes and created rock walls in clay: Handelsbanken headoffice 1961, SAAB, Linköping, 1963, Commerce Tower in Kansas City in 1964, Volvo's headquarters in 1967 - a wonderful landscape of the iron road from the mine to the car. The Volvo wall is one of the largest ceramic works ever and maybe Stålhanes best effort at all. During this same period Stålhane's unique studio-ceramics evolved from slender and elegant pieces to the crude, dark drama with fallout of molten rock. The fine mist of the spray gun was replaced by a pouring of glaze, filling the cut surfaces of the vessels.
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.