new-york

View of “Arlene Shechet,” 2016–17. Background: Arlene Shechet, Bug Plate, 2013. Foreground: Model attributed to George Fritsche, Mounted Meissen Group, ca. 1729. Photo: Michael Bodycomb.

Arlene Shechet

The Frick Collection

View of “Arlene Shechet,” 2016–17. Background: Arlene Shechet, Bug Plate, 2013. Foreground: Model attributed to George Fritsche, Mounted Meissen Group, ca. 1729. Photo: Michael Bodycomb.

In her last New York solo show, in 2013, Arlene Shechet showed clay sculptures in a vein of abstraction that indexed the Rabelaisian—forms here swollen, there constricted, here biomorphic, there ambivalently geometric, the colors sometimes flat and sometimes violent, the surfaces now smooth, now scraped or stucco-like. These objects stood on bases as considered as themselves, in materials from raw wood to cement, in structures from short and stubby to tall and spare, and in heights that brought the tallest works up to a total of almost six feet. What, then, would be the subject of Shechet’s next show? Meissen porcelain! Of course! Knew it all along.

Meissen today is synonymous with a certain sort of delicacy, refinement, fragility, purity, and also, it must be said, something like kitsch. This despite its secure place in museum vitrines, its literature of connoisseurship, and

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