Johan van Loon, 75 years

Johan van Loon, Bowl 'Polkadot' 1978, Stoneware, porcelain, Collection Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen
Johan van Loon, Bowl 'Polkadot' 1978, Stoneware, porcelain, Collection Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen

31 October 2009 – 7 February 2010

Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen is staging an exhibition of earlier work and new ceramics by Johan van Loon (Rotterdam, 1934) to mark his 75th birthday. For more than 50 years Johan van Loon has been one of the most important Dutch ceramic artists. This autumn more than twenty of his works will be exhibited in the museum’s showcase gallery.

The Johan van Loon exhibition presents more than twenty of the earthenware, stoneware and ceramic vases, bowls and plates in the museum collection. The presentation charts the development in the work in different periods of Van Loon’s career. The underlying theme in his work is the urge for innovation, expressed in experiments with colours, forms and surfaces. A great variety of objects are combined in one exhibition.

Artistic development
The ceramics from Johan van Loon’s earliest period have highly individual glazes, and were still being influenced by English and Finnish ceramics. In the 1970s Van Loon slowly switched to making objects from thinly rolled-out stoneware clay from which he created tall bowls and vases with overlaps and folds, and the use of glaze became very much a secondary issue. Van Loon’s background as a fabric designer is evident in the way he allows the material qualities of the stoneware and porcelain clays to play a role.

In the late 1970s Johan van Loon spent a good deal of time working for the Royal Copenhagen porcelain factory. During this period his work became increasingly popular and he concentrated on thin-walled, flaring mushroom-shaped vases made of stoneware and porcelain—the route to his artistic future. In the 1980s and 1990s Van Loon again embellished his work with extraordinary glazed and ‘engobe’ decorations. The result was a colourful interplay of glazed and matt contrasts. The persistent urge for innovation and experimentation is back again and can also be clearly seen in his most recent work, which consists primarily of thin interlaced strips of clay. This new work was specially made for the museum, as was a multiple developed for the museum shop. Experimentation with decorations and colours remains a motif in his work and makes it unique and recognizable.