With his play of beauty and imperfection, Georges Jouve is one of the most valuable ceramicists to collect right now.
Very few ceramicists have achieved the notoriety that 1950s Georges Jouve has. Known for his sinuous vases, abstract forms and architectural pieces, Georges Jouve is admired by artists, designers and collectors alike — his works are fine collector’s items which are highly sought after in art auctions around the globe.
Georges Jouve and his Early Life
With an eclectic background in theatre, architecture and art, Georges Jouve was a jack-of-all-trades, but a clear master in pottery. Jouve discovered terracotta after fleeing a German concentration camp in 1944 when his family installed themselves in Dieulefit, a town with an already present ceramic tradition.
As he seeped into the world of clay-shaping, he found a willing collaborator with a kiln nearby and would often ride his bike over uneven terrain to get to it, undeterred even if some of his pieces cracked along the journey.
When he then moved to Paris, Georges Jouve opened a studio and was invited to partake in an exhibition called La Céramique Contemporaine which paved the path for Jouves in the art world. He then began exhibiting in salons, notably Salon des Artistes Decorateurs in Paris, and Association Francaise d’Action Artistique in Rio de Janeiro, Vienna, Toronto, Rome, Milan, and Cairo.
Style and ArtWork
Jouves was part of the creative outburst in the post-war era; a time marked by innovation, optimism and creativity in design, decor and architecture.
His work, always playing with the fine line between form and function was often distinguishable by Jouve’s use of satin black glazing – although when other ceramicists began to adopt black into their practice the french ceramicist turned to whites, yellows, oranges, greens, and reds.
Georges did not believe in perfection. Once his pieces had volume, Jouve’s would displace them form their axis and sculpt with movement. This human imperfection of Jouve’s work produced objects of beauty instead of trying to solve issues of functionality. Despite this, some of his most famous pieces include vases, platters, bowls, lamp bases, wall lights and tables.
Selling Georges Jouve’s Work
In May 2022, Christie’s achieved a new record for Jouve when his glazed ceramic and oak table from 1950 sold for €1,062,000, more than doubling its low estimate. Even without the record-breaking sales, his work, which is composed of pieces of various sizes and shapes, does not sell for under 7500€, and his famous ashtrays with pedestals have sold at Sotheby’s for 10,710€. This makes Georges Jouve one of the most prestigious ceramicists of our time, at the very least from a collector’s perspective.
His celebrity status in the art dealership world can be attributed to his own wife’s contribution. After his death, in the 1990s Jaqueline sold many of Georges Jouve’s pieces to famous art dealers, notably Catherine and Stéphane de Beyrie who brought his work to New York and expanded Jouve’s global notoriety.