03-07-2008 03-08-2008
Skinner Auctions
Skinner Auctions Boston MA
2399 Boston
March 7, 2008 12:00 PMCalender

Mags Harries (Welsh/American, b. 1945) Mantelpiece

Auction: American & European Works of Art - 2399 Location: Boston Date / Time: March 07, 2008 12:00PM


Mags Harries (Welsh/American, b. 1945)

Mantelpiece, 1973
Seventeen-piece ceramic installation, largest to 11 3/4 x 8 1/2 in. (29.8 x 21.6 cm).
Condition: Minor breaks, losses.
Exhibition: Mags Harries: September 26-November 7, 1982, De Cordova Museum, Lincoln, MA.
Literature: Mags Harries: September 26-November 7, 1982 [exhibition catalog], De Cordova Museum, Lincoln, MA. illus.
N.B. Cambridge-based artist Mags Harries drew wide acclaim in the late 70s/mid-80s for her site-specific public sculptures "Asaroton" at Boston's Haymarket and "Glove Cycle" at Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority's Porter Square station. These works immortalized the cast-offs of daily life via the permanence of the bronze medium, and engaged the past and present history of the place and its users. In his essay, "Ruinic Ruins: Mags Harries' Archaeology of the Present," Donald Kuspit uses the term "artifactualization" to describe the way that Harries captures the cultural practices of a space in time. The present work-Harries' first privately-commissioned site-specific sculpture-is also amongst her earliest. Ceramic was Harries' original chosen medium, and was particularly apt for the subject of her early work-domestic interiors and private spaces. Mantelpiece was created for a Victorian fireplace updated in white. As a result, the chocolate-box assortment of objects that Harries depicted occupies a fluctuating context-they are at once modern and Victorian, minimal and cluttered, objective and sentimental, machined and handmade, useful and useless. The 'whiteness' of the objects ultimately bridges these polarities by evoking a sense of time stopped-objects that signify communication and the passage of time are completely blanched and "fossilized." As a whole, the assemblage presented can be understood as a memento mori-asking us to consider our own mortality in the face of obsolescence-but also as a reflection on the history and practice of collecting-how we live (and have lived) with objects in our daily lives.
Estimate $1,500-3,000

The losses are tiny, and almost exclusively to glazes (or to paint on non-ceramic elements such as the phone cord and clock hands).


Mags Harries, De Cordova Museum, Lincoln, Massachusetts, Porter, Cambridge, Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority, Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority's Porter Square, Porter Square station, Donald Kuspit