Léopold L. Foulem, ceramist, writer, teacher (born 4 April 1945 in Bathurst, New Brunswick). Léopold Foulem is one of the leading conceptual ceramists in the world. He has been active for over 50 years and his work has been featured in over 40 solo exhibitions. Foulem was awarded the Jean A. Chalmers National Crafts Award in 1999, the Saidye Bronfman Award for excellence in the fine crafts in 2001 and the 2003 Prix Éloizes as Artist of the Year in the Visual Arts. His work is collected by many museums including the Gardiner Museum, the Los Angeles County Museum, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec, the Canadian Museum of Civilization, the Winnipeg Art Gallery, and the Victoria and Albert Museum.
Early Life, Education and Career
Foulem studied at the New Brunswick Handicraft School in Fredericton in 1964–5, and briefly at the Institut des arts appliqués in Montréal before transferring to the Alberta College of Art and Design, graduating in 1969. The following year he studied at the Sheridan School of Craft and Design, and attended summer school at the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts in Maine. He completed his MFA from Indiana State University in 1988. Foulem has taught ceramics in Montréal CEGEP programs since the 1970s. In 2004, he co-curated the exhibition Picasso et la céramique, co-organized by the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec and the Gardiner Museum. Foulem is also an avid collector of early Québec studio pottery and has donated much of his collection to Canadian museums.
Foulem inverts the functionality of the vessel by employing an armory of artistic techniques, including abstraction, ready-made, bricolage and Pop art to deconstruct issues of gender, taste and the paradox between the three-dimensional object and the two-dimensional image. Mickey Mouse, Colonel Sanders, Santa Claus, Mounties or priests — no image is too sacred for Foulem to apply as weapons for his critique. Ultimately, his practice challenges the viewer to consider ceramics as an artistic discipline unto itself rather than a process, material or utilitarian object.