CHICAGO, Sept. 17 (Xinhua) -- An exhibition, "Blue and White Ceramics: An Enduring Global Obsession," is going on at the Krannert Art Museum located at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) in Champaign, Illinois.
Highlighting Chinese blue and white porcelain, the objects on exhibit range from Ming Dynasty porcelain to contemporary transferware and earthenware. The exhibition also spans more than six centuries of ceramicists' responses to Chinese methods, decorative patterns and forms, tells stories of global exchange, artistic emulation and shared aesthetics, and gives the public an opportunity to see some exceptionally beautiful objects from the museum's collection.
"Chinese blue and white porcelain was a particularly fine product that is collected, admired and imitated around the world. It's never gone out of fashion," said Maureen Warren, the curator of European and American art. "Until the early 18th century, the knowledge to produce porcelain was a closely guarded secret."
Chinese porcelain is produced by firing a refined type of clay at high temperatures until it is vitreous, or glass-like. The result is a ceramic that is both strong and thin, to the point of being semitranslucent. It can withstand boiling water without cracking, making it ideal for preparing tea. As tea became more affordable, it further increased the demand for porcelain in Europe.
Most ceramic-making traditions worldwide, including Dutch Delftware, Turkish Iznik tiles and mass-produced English transfer-printed ceramics, have taken inspiration from Chinese wares.
A successful tradition that owes much to Chinese porcelain is English transferware, which are mass-produced, decal-printed ceramics that were purchased by middle-class customers in Europe, the United States and Southeast Asia. The exhibition features a range of transferware with images of exotic or imagined landscapes.
Also on exhibit are a variety of vessels for serving and storing coffee, tea and tobacco, which were imported luxuries for consumers in the 17th and 18th centuries; and contemporary ceramics.
The "Blue and White Ceramics" exhibition will last through May 12, 2019, at the UIUC museum.