In the mid-1940s, Edouard Chapallaz’s (1921–2016) fascination with Song Dynasty ceramics from China inspired in him the burning desire to recreate the perfection of their high-temperature glazes in his own work.
The Swiss ceramic artist Edouard Chapallaz put the discus-shaped stoneware vase together out of two plates atop a turned base. The sharp edge shines forth brightly from the deep-red copper glaze, while the teal underside appears to be in shadow. “My ceramics should make people think of the sky, rock, water, or a landscape,” Chapallaz once said. He derived his ideas from the depth of color and sensuality of Chinese ceramics, which he saw for the first time at Musée Cernuschi in Paris after the borders were opened following World War II. In long years of complicated trials, he developed glazes with evocative names like “bleu de ciel après la pluie,” “fourrures de lièvres,” and “sang de boeuf.” He only managed to coax the tones he desired from the high-temperature glazes in an electric kiln he first had to develop himself. After apprenticing as a ceramicist at the École suisse de céramique in Chavannes-près-Renens, Chapallaz first found work in the industrial pottery factory in Thayngen. He then opened his own studio in Duillier near Nyon in 1945, but continued to earn a living working for various pottery manufacturers. In the late 1950s, he was given a post as a teacher of technology at the École des Arts Décoratifs in Geneva, and he finally had his artistic breakthrough with his impressive vases ten years later. Commissions for ceramic architectural reliefs for the Lausanne train station and for the Swiss School in Mexico City followed. (Sabine Flaschberger)