📅 10.02.2023 – 06.08.2023
From 10 February, Zuzeum Art Centre will welcome visitors to Celebrate Porcelain with Kuznetsov, a porcelain exhibition of an unprecedented scale. With more than 1000 porcelain, faience and clay objects from the Zuzāns Collection as well as archival materials, it will tell the story of the manufacturing of Kuznetsov porcelain.
The words “Kuznetsov porcelain” will be familiar to almost everyone, and it can be argued that Latvian porcelain is predominantly associated with the name of Kuznetsov. Yet few will know that during the 19th century there were 13 factories bearing the name of Kuznetsov in Russia, one of which was in Riga. Being the first porcelain manufactory established in the territory of Latvia, it was active from 1841 until World War II, and held and continues to hold an important place in the history of Kuznetsov porcelain as the only one to carry the Kuznetsov name in the interwar period when all other factories of the Kuznetsov family in Soviet Russia had already been nationalised. This period coincided with considerable global changes, which were also reflected in art through the formation of entirely new, distinct artistic styles. Naturally, these can also be observed in the Kuznetsovs’ porcelain production from this period, in combination with unique local characteristics designed by Latvian artists.
The exhibition is a continuation of Zuzeum’s Kuznetsov Project, whose main aim is to celebrate the beginnings of porcelain manufacturing in Latvia and also trace its succession, hence the central place in the exhibition is given to the factory in Latvia, which also constitutes the broadest part of the collection. To better understand the origins of the Kuznetsovs’ porcelain manufacturing, the exhibition is accompanied by a structured presentation of examples of production from almost all Kuznetsov factories, making it possible to grasp the place and significance of the Riga factory in the Kuznetsov porcelain empire and discover cross-influences among the different cultures.
In the view of curator Marta Šuste: “The phenomenon that is the popularity of Kuznetsov porcelain today is to be found in the wide distribution of the items, and not so much in their famed quality or artistic value. Porcelain is a complex and expensive material. Yet the Kuznetsovs’ porcelain production was meant for all – from courtly palaces to peasants’ shacks, so to speak. Overall, it can be characterised as diverse, very varied, refined, rich and at the same time simple, in a word – eclectic. It is impossible to represent it, as well as the Slavic immodesty which Kuznetsov porcelain undoubtedly embodies, through moderation. So let’s make these Kuznetsov porcelain products reveal their diverse splendour in a proper celebration of porcelain!”
The architect of the exhibition, Toms Kampars, has built the exhibition as a process of discovery of porcelain manufacturing, using its elements in the exhibition’s design to bring every visitor closer to the mysteries of porcelain production.
Zuzeum’s Kuznetsov Project includes the already concluded first exhibition of objects from the Zuzāns Collection in Tukums Museum’s Durbe Manor (31.01.2020-10.04.2022) and the recently published book Kuzņecova porcelāns. Zuzānu kolekcija [Kuznetsov Porcelain. Zuzāns Collection], which presents the story along similar lines. Each new iteration opens broader possibilities for the development of the theme. The exhibition Celebrate Porcelain with Kuznetsov in the spacious exhibition hall of the Zuzeum Art Centre is a chance to bring the splendor of Kuznetsov porcelain emphatically to life, giving each visitor the opportunity to grasp the abundant diversity of the production and assess its place in the context of its time from different perspectives – historical as well as stylistic. The exhibition presents almost 1000 porcelain, faience and clay objects from the Zuzāns Collection, accompanied by visual materials from the Zuzāns Collection, video footage from the Latvian State Archive of Audiovisual Documents, historical photographs and materials related to porcelain production from other private collections and a video shot specially for this exhibition.
Through its accompanying lectures and creative workshops, the exhibition will be an opportunity to get to know the process of porcelain manufacturing through the Kuznetsovs’ broad and eclectic production, which also contains the seeds for the subsequent development of the porcelain industry in Latvia.