A pair of speckled stoneware vases from the studio of Gerhard Liebenthron, dated '74 & '77 respectively.  Both are signed and dated by the artist.

GERHARD LIEBENTHRON (1925-1005) grew up in Berlin and was largely inspired creatively by the zeitgeist of the 1930s. The period was epitomized by the clashing of many political ideologies, including Marxist Socialism, Capitalist Democracy, and the Totalitarianism of both Communism and Fascism. Surrealism dominated in Europe and had influence on an international scale. Artists such as Frida Kahlo and Diego Riviera in Mexico, worked to integrate the ideas posed by Surrealism into their revolutionary political ideologies, developing a new kind of magic realism.  In this environment, the young Liebenthron desired to become a theatrical painter, but that impulse was interrupted by the outbreak of the WWII, much of which he spent as a prisoner of war.  Upon his return from captivity, he had to secure his livelihood temporarily by painting ceramic vases. It was this random encounter with ceramics that determined his further evolution as an artist. from 1945-1951 he studied at the Staatliche Kunstschule (State School of Art) in Bremen in the pottery class of Else Krieg & Dorothee Colberg-Tjadens.  He spent his final year as the Assistant to the sculptor Prof. Ernst Goersemann.

After Liebenthron finished his time at the Kunstschule he opened his own workshop in the historic Boettcherstraße in Bremen in 1952.  The ceramic works he produced there consisted of arbitrarily shaped vessels and wall plates with expressive, abstracted figurative or inconspicuous ornamental and color-intensive decorations.  These works were regularly presented in the important arts and crafts journal "Die Schaulade" and its successor "Gestalt" from 1954 on. Beginning in 1955 he also took part in numerous national and international exhibitions.

After producing hand-built 'free form' vases, decorated with painted motifs, reminiscent of the work of Capron and Portanier in Vallauris during the 50s, Liebenthron switched to stoneware. He produced a wide range of vessels, from domestic-size bowls, jugs and vases to larger pieces whose primary functions were decorative.  Many of his monumental pieces seem to aspire to the status of sculpture beyond any functionality except, perhaps, that of a ritual vessel, or to become a painted sculpture.  With the experience  he had gained during the 50s making 'modern' works, in a Picasso-esque freeform style, he began to seek inspiration from German rural stoneware and from other traditions, including the work of the Japanese, which was being discovered through exhibitions and publications.  From this quest, his work began to display an austere monumentality that united Eastern and Western traditions without turning into a pastiche. From 1969, he replaced his bright color glazes with thin washes of earthy pigments, half-way between abstract calligraphy and drip painting.  The impressive range of forms he developed show a great capacity to work in different styles while retaining his own distinctive character.

Liebenthron created works of simple elegance with rough and natural glazes and organic, idiosyncratic forms that often include expressive incised decors rhythmically carved, then coated with layers of glazes onto which thin narrow streaks of brown were sprinkled and allowed to flow and dissolve before applying a final clear glaze to bind everything together.  His work earned him wide notoriety in national and international exhibitions, and many of his pieces are highly sought after today. Liebenthron’s work can be found in several museums in Germany, such as the Keramik Museum in Berlin, the Fockemuseum in Bremen and the Hetjens Museum of German ceramics in Düsseldorf for example. Gerhard Liebenthron died in Bremen in 2005.

Designer Gerhard Liebenthron
Manufacturer Gerhard Liebenthron
Design Period 1970 to 1979
Production Period 1970 to 1979
Country of Manufacture Germany
Identifying Marks This piece has an attribution mark
Style Vintage, Mid-Century, Hand-Crafted, Minimalist, Modernist
Detailed Condition Excellent — This vintage piece is in near original condition. It may show minimal traces of use and/or have slight restorations.
Product Code
Materials Ceramic
Color Blue, brown, tan, white
Width 5.3 inch
Depth 3.0 inch
Height 8.0 inch


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