I Couldn’t Live without Ceramics
Museum Angewandte Kunst, Frankfurt/Main
– 26 August 2018
Vases and bowls, pots and cups, and also tiles and figurines; you expect to see all these types of objects in a ceramics exhibition, and indeed, the Museum Angewandte Kunst in Frankfurt/Main is displaying such items to mark the first (!) retrospective of Lore Kramer’s creative work. This is a journey of discovery, but happily this is not particularly emphasised as such, as the objects look too familiar, too obvious in the best meaning of the word. Kramer is well-known in the German-speaking area, at least. We know her essays on design history, her decades-long involvement in her husband’s, Ferdinand Kramer, oeuvre, which unifies architecture, product, and journalism, and of her support of young designers and journalists. We also know that she wanted to be a sculptor and became a ceramicist. Visiting her apartment revealed hints of this, some became clearer from seeing photographs. Yet, it was mostly hidden since the Offenbach Werkkunstschule evolved into the HfG Offenbach at the beginning of the 1970s, and we have to thank Matthias Wagner K, the director of the Museum Angewandte Kunst, for his commitment that this part of an extensive lifework with practice, theory, and family is now on display. The exhibition architecture succeeds in presenting the objects in such a way that the impression of mere accumulation is avoided, but there is a unifying factor, in the glazes, for example. The central room of the show particularly, which does not replicate an atelier, but rather encapsulates the archetypal look of a potter’s workshop, contributes to this – a design successfully created by co-curator, Annika Sellmann, together with students from Offenbach.
Stylistically, Lore Kramer starts out from the volume-emphasising abstracts of Otto Baum and the slim contours of the late Gerhard Marck – she studied under both. She acquired her craft skills from Otto Lindig, who was mainly mentioned in the context of the Weimar Bauhaus movement. Kramer combines these influences in clear shapes in which many works, as a result of her use of colourful glazes, reflect the optimism of the post-war period. Works for the industry, such as a stacking system for Wächtersbach, whose shapes follow a similar principle to the large-scale gastronomy designs by Hans Theo Baumann, Heinz H. Engler, and Nick Roericht around 1960, are temporary episodes. Kramer never troubled with selling her work, which contributed to it being less well known. The fact that there were and are some people who knew about it became clear at the opening, at which not only friends, companions, and people interested in the subject, but also ceramic collectors, on the lookout for the unknown, filled the museum. And the question of a possible sales exhibition was raised. But we must wait for this, as well as the planned overview of her work, for a while. A catalogue to accompany the exhibition is in the pipeline.