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(American, Cleveland, 1904–1994)
Transparent enamel (Plique-à-jour); copper
Overall: 7.7 x 10 cm (3 1/16 x 3 15/16 in.)
Bequest of Marie Odenkirk Clark 1972.1195.a
There is no backing to the enamel cloisonné in Perpetual Vine, rendering it both translucent and dangerously fragile.
Kenneth Bates spent a lifetime devoted to the art of enameling. He taught several generations of students at the Cleveland Institute of Art, who subsequently became renowned enamelists, and created a spectacular body of work that won him international accolades. This small, luxurious cup typifies the skill and technical prowess of Bates's talent. Featuring the cloisonné enamel technique known as plique-à-jour, in which the enamel is applied in cells with no backing, the cup seemingly exists with no structure, held aloft only by the tiny silver arms of its stand. The translucent enamel lets the light permeate as a stained glass window would in a church. The effect is ethereal and impressionistic, and in this way, recalls the work of the masters of this art from the early 1900s, René Lalique and Fernand Thesmar.
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