Vassil Ivanoff

Abstract Expressionism in Clay

Vassil Ivanoff (1897-1973) was a multi-talented artist and teacher active in France. He moved from his native Bulgaria to Paris in 1927 where, by 1945, he had been a house painter, painter, decorator, fabric painter, and art photographer. That same year, he happened upon a copy of The Art of Pottery by William Lee and became enamored by the material, choosing to make it his profession. In 1946, he moved to the artist community in La Borne in central France where—equipped with a wood oven and a sincere passion for ceramics—he had his most productive period. Ivanoff made less than three thousand pieces and among those were complex, small-scale expressionist sculptures, like the present lot, that are evocatively monumental. He is considered to be part of the birth of abstract expressionism in ceramics which would reach its peak in the 1970s in the work of Peter Voulkos, John Mason, and others.