Fire!: Simon de Pury’s return to the art scene

New York’s Venus Over Manhattan hosts a hotly anticipated show

“Some are functional and some are pure objets d’art,” explains Simon de Pury of the selected glass and ceramic works that he and his wife Michaela have chosen for the new Fire! exhibition at Venus Over Manhattan in New York (curated by the couple under the name of de Pury de Pury). The show runs from Thursday September 18 to Saturday November 1 and features the creations ($10,000-$500,000) of 17 noted artists – including Flavie Audi, Jean Baptiste Bernadet, Young-Jae Lee, Sterling Ruby and Ai Weiwei – and will mark the colourful auctioneer’s return to the art world following his departure from Phillips de Pury in 2013.

The 90 works – vessels, sculptures and small figurines among them – by a mix of contemporary artists working in ceramic, glass and resin are united by the element of fire. From a crude ceramic sandal by Sterling Ruby to ethereal glass clouds by the UK-based French-Lebanese artist Flavie Audi (third picture), Fire! will highlight crafts that have long been “the lost child of design”.

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The unconventional Venus Over Manhattan gallery space – the former home of Sotheby’s – will also be the backdrop for totemic sculptures by Los Angeles-based artist John Mason, ceramic forms by Cameron Jamie (first picture), playfully painted “Face Pots” by Dan McCarthy (second picture), the anthropomorphic, often outlandish work of Sweden’s Mårten Medbo, Thomas Schütte’s utilitarian vases and Rosemarie Trockel’s abstracted, colourful moulds.

“The works in the exhibit – particularly those in glass – are risky and often costly to produce,” says Simon de Pury. “These artists invest countless hours in each piece and because they are so breakable, many are never seen.” The duo hope to bring these works, and the multidisciplinary artisans who produce them, to the fore to further break down the barrier between fine and applied arts – surely an idea worth warming to.

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