About the artist
Dutch ceramic artist Wouter Dam (b. 1957) begins his undulating and abstract sculptures on the wheel, although this might not be apparent at first glance. To create his finely-wrought, monochromatic ribbons of clay, the artist first throws 10 to 12 cylinders, which he then cuts open and joins together, fabricating works that, according to Nesrin During of Ceramic Review, “twist and bend and flow, containing and enclosing space.”
The son of an architect in Utrecht, Netherlands, Dam was encouraged to explore form and beauty from a young age. In 1975, the artist entered the Gerrit Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam, studying with Jan van der Vaart and beginning his explorations of shape and volume that would continue throughout his career.
Dam’s early works hint at the direction his oeuvre would take, although they maintained a functionality that his mature sculptures have abandoned. These vessel forms, beginning to break from the symmetry of the classical vases they were inspired by, still suggest a latent ability to contain. In contrast, David Pagel of The Los Angeles Times describes Dam’s later tabletop sculptures as “delightfully useless” forms that “articulate a radically different notion of beauty, in which oddness and exaggeration satisfy the needs once fulfilled by symmetry.”
Dam reveals that in his work, he strives to impart "just a vague memory of the real thing, just a hint. There should be enough room for the viewer to let his own imagination run free." His sculptures make subtle reference to the classical forms mentioned above, as well as Neolithic and iron-age pots, the human body, wooden boats and the crashing of the waves themselves. The result is a marvelous and minimal blend of his source materials, and elegant objects that obey their own idiosyncratic logic.
Wouter Dam’s work has been exhibited widely throughout the world, including Germany, Japan, France and his native Holland. His work is included in the collections of the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, and the Detroit Institute of Art, among others.