Saturday, September 16, 2006

Hippo Service

indulge me, dear friends. There are moments of whimsy so equisite, that i am consumed entirely with hope for the world. This is one of them.

Art collector Richard Cohen got the most marvelous wild hair up his ass, one fine day while dining with an antique china dealer. They were discussing antique chna with hunting dogs and ducks on them, and Cohen expressed dissapointment at the fact that truly interesting animals were never represented on dining sets.

What followed is the most important comission of china in 100 years. My ability to relay the details of this endeavor will do it no justice. I'll cut and paste the Wall Street Journal Article (No link, since it's subscription only).

"He scrounged for antique etchings of hippos but eventually decided to go all out and hire photographer Sarah Galbraith to document the names and faces of nearly every hippo in captivity -- she ultimately traveled to 101 zoos in 33 countries, including Vietnam, South Africa, Australia and Sri Lanka.

Back home in Oyster Bay, N.Y., Mr. Cohen sifted through 3,000 images and sent his favorites to Royal Copenhagen, which hadn't received a commission of this scale in at least a century. He asked for the hippos to be painted on the company's renowned Flora Danica pattern -- also found in the collection of Denmark's Queen Margrethe II -- with enough teacups and dinner plates to serve a five-course meal for 18. The 231-year-old porcelain company has about 25 artisans who can paint the pattern for regular, five-person place settings (cost: about $6,000). But because of the scale of this commission, the company called in semi-retired master Juergen Nielsen to do the entire set. (Mr. Cohen says he doesn't plan to sell the collection, or eat off it.)"

Hippo Serving DishHippo Cake Dish
The Photographer kept a blog JOINED AT THE HIPPO, where you can see some more of the exhibit and the photos of the subjects. Each piece has the names of the Hippos and their locale emblazoned on the bottom (Bubbles, San Diego Zoo, for example).

Some people, may claim $400,000 is a terrible amount to waste on a project as silly as this. Considering the amount of true waste in this nation, it is heartening for me to see money spent on an act of silliness. Artists and craftsmen in Sweden, professiona photographers, and some very very serious minded individuals have gotten behind on a an act of whimsy so grand, and a subject matter so silly, and declared it "Important Art". As i told someone very special to me, if there is room in this world for something as silly as a 400k hippo set of dishware, then there's a place on this earth for all god's silly creations, Including me. To quote an antiques dealer, "There are valid discussions about distribution of wealth, but this is not one of them.".

570.x231.out-002Hippo Plate

570.x231.out.hippoHippo Plate2

Click here to see what Hippo sex sounds like (For real!)

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