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Carl-Harry Stålhane was one of the stars among Swedish ceramic artists during the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, whose designs are just as highly regarded and sought-after by collectors today. He was born in Mariestad, close to Lidköping where the Rörstrand stoneware factory was located. He early expressed artistic aptitude as an amateur actor and illustrator, and in spite of lack of support from his father, he looked for work at Rörstrand which was the area’s creative hub. Stålhane began work at Rörstrand as an eighteen year old, decorating stoneware vases. His remarkable talent was noticed by Isaac Grünewald who was at Rörstrand as a guest artist, and who made Stålhane his assistant. Stålhane subsequently went on to study painting at Grünewald’s school in Stockholm and sculpture at Academie Colarossi in Paris.
At Rörstrand, where he was employed from 1939 to 1973, Stålhane designed unique stoneware, serially produced decorative items and tableware, large public decorations and sculptures. He was an innovator who drove forward the evolvement of ceramic artistry and design, from the slender, graphic vases of the 1950s to the brutal, expressive style of the 1960s, deeply influencing his contemporaries. He was instrumental to Rörstrand as a creative leader and brand representative, and his work and magnetic personality were fundamental in maintaining the company’s status. From 1963 to 1971 he was head teacher in ceramics and glass at Konstindustriskolan in Gothenburg, making his mark in a new generation of ceramicists and artists. In 1973 he ended his employment at Rörstrand due to the changing landscape in the industry where artistic freedom had to give increasing way to market forces. He then founded the ceramic studio Designhuset, where he and a team of other artists and throwers designed and produced stoneware in a smaller scale compared to Rörstrand but with greater freedom. Stålhane worked at Designhuset until his death in 1990.
Carl-Harry Stålhane had 37 separate exhibitions of his work during his career between the years 1948 and 1990 and he received many prestigious awards, among them a Gold Medal at the Milano Triennial in 1955. His work is represented in many museums, among them Nationalmuseum, Röhsska muséet, MoMA and Victoria & Albert Museum. Aside from his work with ceramics, he also worked as an interior designer and creative lead for VARA-bolagen, a company that owned and administered a chain of hotels and restaurants in the southwestern part of Sweden.
Literature: Stålhane. Petter Eklund. Carlsson, 2006
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