Fine Art Pottery or Fine Art Ceramics?
There is a broad distinction between “fine arts” (unique objects created purely for their visual or aesthetic appeal) and “crafts” (objects which, no matter how visually decorative are usually functional and typically made to a formula). Thus “fine art pottery” (or ceramics) describes artistic works, while the term “pottery” tends to be reserved for pots, dishes and other functional items. These definitions are not absolute: some ceramic items can be both beautiful works of art and still have a function.
Some experts consider that the earliest known fine art ceramic sculpture is the cache of figurines unearthed at Dolni Vestonice in the Czech Republic, as exemplified by the Venus of Dolni Vestonice, a statuette of a nude female figure, which has supposedly been dated to approximately 25,000 BCE.
In comparison, the earliest functional pottery vessels – discovered in China – are believed to date from approximately 33,000 BCE. However, no authoritative date has yet been established for these discoveries.
In the West, pottery achieved a high point in Classical Greek art, in the creation and decoration of vases. Many art critics consider Greek pottery to represent the zenith of ceramic art. Other sophisticated forms appeared in Islamic art, made by Middle Eastern ceramicists, who invented tin-glaze in the 9th century CE. In the East, the most outstanding fine art ceramics were first produced in China, where significant advances were achieved in the composition, glazing and decoration of clay objects. In the Americas, pottery first appeared in Pre-Columbian art around 2000-1800 BCE.