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  • Mado Jolain, Pichet à poignée 1955

Mado Jolain (1921-2019)

Exhibition from 22 June to 1 September 2024

In the ceramic landscape of the 1950s, the work of Mado Jolain (1921-2019) has an appeal that can be attributed to its modernity and the formal interplay that she used frequently. Very early on, the ceramicist showed a preference for simple volumes, that were structured and shaped in such a way that the subtle associations of shadow and light could be to their advantage.

At the start of the 1940s, Mado Jolain was introduced to ceramics at the National School of Decorative Arts in Paris and at the same time attended the drawing and sculpture workshops of the Grande Chaumière. There, she met her future husband, the painter René Legrand (1923-1996). Her production then reflected the appetite of the time for popular imagery,
finials and stylised cockerels are set alongside religious scenes, with collections that were regularly exhibited at the “Salon de l’Imagerie” (imagery show) and the “Salon des Artistes Decorateurs” (decorative artists’ show).

A successful outcome was not in doubt. Colette Gueden, the high priestess of Primavera, called on her talent, soon to be replaced by the Parisian galleries, the Arcade, La Porte Étroite, the Galerie du Siècle or decorators like Samardiras and Merceron. In 1955, the prestigious La Demeure gallery, which participated in the renaissance of contemporary tapestry combined with ceramic objects, exhibited her work. The true nature of her work was unveiled. She was more interested in the development and
construction of the object than the surroundings which then started to become more and more abstract. Her shapes, that were always utilitarian, were unique, as evidenced by these large dishes with pinched necks or the Pichet Vase with handle recently donated by the family to La Piscine museum.

At the end of the 1950s, Mado Jolain settled with her family on the banks of the Marne, in Champigny. She then left the world of the home and turned to gardens, creating “light sensors” to enhance the plant world. First there were planters and flower pots coated in a monochrome yellow or anise green enamel. These were followed by cogwheels and flowers. The shapes became more refined, stronger, and the streaks and perforations became the only decorative features that interact with the solid sections and apertures to catch the light.

Thanks to this tribute paid by La Piscine, the public will be able to discover the work of a ceramicist whose free spirit and love of rigour played a role in reviving ceramics in the 1950s and 1960s.

Commission: Karine Lacquemant.
The design was made possible thanks to generous support from the paints distributed by Tollens.

Private viewing Friday 21 June 2024 from 6pm

Key: Mado Jolain (1921-2019) Pichet vase with handle. 1955. Glazed ceramic, 33.5 x 24.5 cm. Diameter: 14 cm
Roubaix, La Piscine – musée d’art et d’industrie André Diligent (André Diligent art and Industry Museum) Donated by the artist’s family in 2020. Photo: Alain Leprince

See also