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New monograph

ART BOOKS International: Press Release by Anne Tolstoy

CAROLINDA TOLSTOY CERAMICS: Text by Ernst J. Grube

Publication 20 October at £19.99 - 160pp: 100 colour illus. - Hbk 26 x 23 cm - ISBN 1874044562

She is undoubtedly the major contemporary representative of a considerably English 'Orientalist' tradition. Her work has justly been recognised as perpetuating the fascination of the Western World with Safavid art, with her indebtedness to a truly original interpretation of the Ottoman tradition.

Foreword by Ernst J. Grube (Professor Emeritus, University of Venice, Italy and President, East West Foundation, New York, USA)

The Artist

Countess Carolinda Tolstoy is a London based ceramicist who exhibits widely and whose work is in national and private collections throughout the world. Her pottery occupies a very special position within the art of contemporary ceramic making. Descendant of an old Middle Eastern family, linked to one of the great families of Russia, her art draws on a variety of sources. Some of her shapes are those of conventional bottles and bowls, but others follow shapes used by Persian potters; the famous and curious onion-shaped domes of Russian churches inspire others.

Photograph: Igor Tolstoy 

The artist succeeds, through the art of pottery, in sharing an energy that goes far beyond the natural world from which the designs ultimately derive. There is an expression of emotion, feelings and passions: 'I am the pots and the pots are me-one and the same - I don't make pots, they make themselves through me - they are a natural extension of myself as I am of them - there is only one way the cycle can stop.'

The Book

This is the first book to depict thirty years of Carolinda's professional life - encompassing studies in Paris and the Chelsea Pottery; travelling and visiting ceramic centres in Manises and Grenada, Spain, Marrakesh and Fez, Morocco, and others in Iran, Russia, and all over the Middle East.

The source of Tolstoy's inspiration derives from many contexts in Islamic art, she borrows decorative elements and ideas from painting, manuscript-illumination, ceramics and textiles whilst adapting characters and motives from Persian miniatures to her own original vases and bowls.

Above all, Carolinda's fascination is with the floral patterns seen on Middle Eastern pottery, and with the use of gold. The recurrence of patterned gold decoration, set against calm blues and pinks, is a persistent theme in her ceramics.

It is the use of brilliant golden floral patterns in Carolinda Tolstoy's work that is almost uniquely her own, giving her work a brilliance and a sense of movement that has few parallels in contemporary ceramic making.

Carolinda Tolstoy's work demonstrates the internationalism of great art and its ability to 'speak' to people of various cultures and periods without a great deal of verbal explanation.

The Author

Ernst J. Grube is well known as an author and critic on Islamic art. He was the first curator of the Department of Islamic Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and is now President of the East West Foundation in New York.