Leonie Mir has successfully organized UN/Breakable, the first-of-its-kind ceramics auction at Christie’s in London.
Primarily an auction house, Christie’s, whose reputation precedes itself, sources, values, sells, and buys exclusive art pieces from all over the world and provides them to the collectors and connoisseurs of art.
Leonie Mir, senior specialist and director at the post-war and contemporary department gets up and personal with The Inside Track about her latest ceramics auction at Christie’s London;
Give us a little background about you and your affiliation with Christie’s?
After having graduated from photography school in Munich, I started my career as a photographer, first living in Madrid and later in Portugal and New York. I returned to Munich, where I became involved with helping young artists and then eventually joined Thaddaeus Ropac’s gallery in Paris in 1998, where I became a Sales Director.
I moved on to Phillips de Pury in 2005, where I set up their Paris offices as a Senior Specialist. I then joined Christie’s in December 2011. I specialize in international Contemporary Art, with a strong passion for Post-War Art, and have worked closely with artists including Jack Pierson, Alex Katz, Anselm Kiefer and Georg Baselitz. I am currently working with a number of international collectors to build museum collections. Finding perfect works for clients, helping them give their collections direction and focus is what’s best about my job.
What is the story behind the organisation of UN/Breakable for Christie’s this fall?
UN/Breakable was inspired mainly from the 50’s, a very traumatizing time for people due to the World War 2. We started off with two pieces from the late 19th century. During the 50’s, people found it therapeutic to work with clay. It was cheap, humble, modest and had soul.
What is beautiful about pottery is that anyone can do it and if one is creative, the transition from natural to modern becomes simple. A groundbreaking time for the creation of art, the 50’s evoked intensity in the art created then. I also have a love for Greek antiquities and Indian calligraphy in addition to ceramics.
If art is meaningful and soulful, no matter in what form, it will have a place in my heart. Ranging from artists from the 18th century to young artists of today, the auction catered to a distinctive group of collectors.
There seems to be hype towards ceramics at the moment. How do you perceive/intercept this?
Ceramics are back and thank God for that! Someone once said, “Clay fills the gap between earth and space”. Truer words haven’t been spoken. Clay has soul, it has personality and the most beautiful part about is that anyone can do it. In a world where machine made art is on an all-time rise, ceramics bring about that human touch that most collectors and connoisseurs appreciate.
Can you name an emerging artist/s to watch out for in the near future in the ceramic art segment?
They are all so talented that it is extremely hard to pick one but there is a Japanese artist, Shio Kosaka, who makes ceramic pots and vases. Her husband is a painter who’s images she uses on the surface of her crafts. An artist power couple, their work showcases innate beauty and refinement.
Which were some of the thirty-four auctioned pieces that were an audience favourite?
Every piece, sourced and handpicked by me over the three years it has taken me to make this dream come true, are special to my heart. From already famous to newer rising talent, every piece was spectacular.
With pure genius that traces back 140 years of ceramic art, some of the pieces on auction were; Crocifisso by Lucio Fontana, The Red-black slipped gold kairagi shino egg by Takuro Kuwata, Metal force by Linda Benglis, Ceramic sketch by Thomas Schütte, Portrait de Jaqueline and Grand vase aux femmes voiles by Pablo Picasso, Golden ghosts by Grayson Perry, Hourglass vessel by Hans Coper, Vase porte-bouquet “Atahualpa” by Paul Gauguin, Deux Figures by Fernand Léger, Bowl by Lane Lucie Rie, Corinne by Junior Schnabel, Colourfield by Edmund De Wal, Moon Slippers by Nermin Kura, Two Tile Panels by Bernard Leach, Ohne Titel by Martin Kippenberger and Vaso Pavone by Fausto Melotti.
Lastly, how did UN/Breakable do in its sale?
We sold thirty four out of the thirty seven pieces displayed and made around four million dollars. In today’s economy, that is a major success. A ninety-two percent success rate is high for any auction let alone a first-of-its kind ceramics one in today’s economy.