"Upon your first glimpse of Beth Katleman's Folly you may feel that you have been fortunate enough to return to some world you once knew or imagined, an enticing but safe and proper place. Creamy-white islands, each just the right distance from each, float through a blue world, like clouds floating across a sky or islands in a waveless ocean. You know exactly where you are. At once pastoral and classy, neo-classical and faux-Orientalist, it's the world of blue-and-white china or of 18th century wallpaper toile de jouy come to vivid three-dimensional life. And I do mean life. Because approach more closely and you will find yourself increasingly puzzled by goings-on in this Arcadia."
POST-IMPERIAL LONGINGS: Beth Katleman's Naughty Arcadia
Folly takes inspiration from Toile de Jouy, the wallpaper adorning the walls of English country houses. Peasants cavort in bucolic landscapes in the shadow of classical ruins. There is something surreal about the scenes which float, disembodied in a world without gravity. In Folly, forty-eight sculptural tableaus hover just off the wall, surrounded by an explosion of fruit and flowers. Each floating landscape is festooned with water features, topiaries, architectural follies, figurines and toys from the flea market. Dark humor infuses the narratives: an elf rides a giant snail to Sacre‐Coeur Basilica, a parade of bridesmaids ends badly and a duckling tumbles over a waterfall.
In 2011, Folly was exhibited at the Museum of Art and Design in New York and won the Moët-Hennessy prize for Best Decorative Art Object at the Pavillion of Art and Design. In 2015, Folly was the subject of the Harper’s Bazaar September issue’s art and jewelry collaborative spread, “Off the Walls.” Harper's Bazaar
Porcelain, wire, steel rods and heat-shrink tubing
208 x 112 x 11 inches
Photos by Alan Wiener