Vladimir Kanevsky creates porcelain flowers that have become an “objet du désir” for many. His sculptures are delicate, beautiful and easy to love: who wouldn’t like a bouquet of flowers that lasts forever?
Howard Slatkin , the late Oscar de la Renta, Carolyne Roehm or Deeda Blair are among his clientele and he is preparing an upcoming exhibition at the Hermitage Museum. On today’s conversation, we are getting to know this fascinating artist.
Dear Vladimir, I’m a big fan of your sculptures. Who or what is your greatest influence?
Probably not from the field of flower making but most definitely real flowers, early 18th century porcelain and architecture. Sometimes even modern sculpture. For example on a recent excellent Picasso sculpture show in MoMA I noticed how he deals with something that I’d call gesture, freedom of gesture. I am trying to achieve it. This is a universal idea and genre does not matter.
You were an architect in USSR; when you arrived in America, you answered an ad for a ceramic maker—what prompted you to answer the ad? Was ceramic something that had ever interested you growing up?
Yes, it was an ad from the decorator Howard Slatkin. I needed some temporary work and asked a friend of mine to call and make an appointment. I started to experiment with very primitive ceramics back in Russia, but not with porcelain. There is a huge difference. After meeting Howard I had a month to buy simple equipment and learn porcelain making. I am still learning.
What was the first object you sculpted on porcelain?
I started with porcelain melons and papier-mâché cabbages of all things. Very primitive flowers started almost a year later. Eventually I developed a library of techniques and concepts.
I had to develop different techniques for almost every new flower. It is easy to see how different are for instance Lily of the Valley and Rose, Foxglove and Hollyhock, Lilac and Morning Glory. Some of them were rather simple, but some needed literally years to develop.
What are the steps you follow to create a new sculpture?
First I study the real thing, sometimes on my backyard. Then I photograph and scan the plant in my computer. I have a huge database of flowers and old botanical drawings. I also ‘sketch’ in real porcelain and real metal. When you sculpt, all sketches mean nothing until you touch the clay, stone or metal and your hands start feeling the material. I (with help of my assistants) usually make a lot of flowers of a certain kind and put them away. Recently we rebuilt our studio. It is right in our house which is very convenient for my wife and me. We both work 10 – 12 hours a day.
Thank you so much Vladimir!
Images: Vladimir Kanevsky unless otherwise specifically stated.
For more information visit http://www.thevladimircollection.com/