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by Archaeology Newsroom

The neo-archaic style in modern Greek ceramics and the ceramics of Kerameikos in the years 1930 to 1940

Since 1909, the year of its foundation, the “Kerameikos S.A.”, located in Neo Phaliro, was determined to produce not only industrial items but also handmade artistic ceramics. The conditions for such a project were favorable during the third decade of the century due to the number of available, capable ceramists and potters who fled from Asia Minor as refugees. The ‘Kerameikos S.A.” employed the Paris educator Panos Valsamakis who was responsible for the creation and artistic direction of the department in the years 1930 to 1942. Thus, the group of ‘Kerameikos” artists created a series of ceramics belonging mainly to three styles which were undoubtedly inspired by the inhibitions of the generation of the ΄30s. These styles are the neo-archaic, the Byzantine-Eastern and the folk (with preference for motifs from the Island of Skyros and Crete and those of the Aegean Sea). Consequently, through these ceramics, the tradition of Ancient, Byzantine and Folk art is continued and expressed. The majority of items of the neo-archaic style were ceramics of everyday use as well as decorative objects embellished with representations from the Minoan, Rhodian, Cycladic and Classical repertoire. Responsible for the copying of Ancient Greek prototypes is the artist Ioannis Simonakis. Thus, what we define as the neo-archaic style in ceramics was created through these artistic products of “Kerameikos”, which “revived” decorative scenes and motifs of ancient Greek pottery. Soon after the end of the war, that is in 1946, the “Kerameikos” factory reopened and continued its production at full speed, especially in the ‘50s. From 1948 to 1953, quite many, then unknown though today famous, artists were occasionally engaged in the artistic workshop of “Kerameikos”, such as the Professor of the School of Fine Arts Kokkinidis, the painters Vakalis and Phertis, the sculptor Moustakas, Panourgias, Kassis and others.