x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Glam Rooster bowl

This design from the archives of the American ceramicist Waylande Gregory is of a qualty that befits his legacy.

Photo by Nash Baker
Photo by Nash Baker

Oh the joy of discovering new things. Last week, thanks to Eva Jeanbart-Lorenzotti (the exquisitely stylish founder and chief executive of Vivre.com, who was visiting the UAE to introduce the brand here), I learnt for the first time about the work of the American ceramicist Waylande Gregory (1905-1971). How had I managed to miss him, I ask myself with the benefit of hindsight. His originality and technical innovation, prolific output and huge influence on American art led The New York Times to describe him as "a genius in his field" in 1941. As well as the thousands of smaller ceramic pieces he designed and produced, he was best known for his monumental work, such as Foundation of the Atom for the 1939 World's Fair. Even so, his work fell from favour in the later part of his life.

Now, thanks to a nephew of the artist, who scoured the archives of Gregory's estate, we are seeing his work again - hand-crafted and hand-painted to a level of quality that befits Gregory's legacy. I love the design of this bowl for its proportions (wide and shallow) but most of all for the glam rooster after which it is named. I'm guessing that Gregory designed it during the 1930s, when he was at the height of his powers - not least because it evokes a spirit that is somewhat reminiscent of the sketches of Jean Cocteau and Marc Chagall, who were his contemporaries (it would be interesting to know if the French artists knew Gregory's work).

The quality and quirkiness of this ceramic collection epitomises the hunter-discoverer skills that Jeanbart-Lorenzotti has turned into such a successful mail order and publishing business. (Her approach and attitude have taken her all the way to the Harvard Business School Entrepreneurship Conference, as a speaker.) Talking of which, this looks like a rooster with attitude - and I like that. * Sandra Lane

Glam Rooster bowl, by Waylande Gregory Studio, 30.5cm diameter, US$875 (Dh3,213) from www.vivre.com. Worldwide shipping (including to the UAE) is available.