Christian Poulsen (1911-1991) was a Danish ceramist known for his innovative use of glazes and unique firing techniques.
Christian Poulsen (1911-1991) was a Danish ceramist known for his innovative use of glazes and unique firing techniques. He was born on February 7, 1911, in Kolding, Denmark, as Christian Theodor Poulsen and was baptized as Kristian. After completing his preliminary examination in 1926 at Kolding Realskole, Christian Poulsen began his apprenticeship as a tradesman in Kolding from 1926-1930. He then attended the School of Arts and Crafts in Copenhagen from 1930-1933, and after a year volunteering at Den kgl. Porcelainsfabrik, he went on to further his training at the École des Arts décoratifs in Paris from 1938-1939.
Christian Poulsen debuted as a painter at the Artists' Autumn Exhibition in 1939, but it was his skills in the field of ceramics that stood out. From 1941-1946, he was employed at Bing & Grøndahl's Porcelain Factory before setting up his own workshop in Ørholm. In the following years, Christian Poulsen produced a number of stoneware works that garnered significant attention. At this time, Danish stoneware was dominated by matte glazes in dark shades of color, and it therefore seemed surprising that Christian Poulsen's works appeared with glossy black and white or strongly colored glazes with a brightness that had previously only been achieved with earthenware, which is fired at a lower temperature than stoneware.
Christian Poulsen discovered a Danish clay that sintered at a lower temperature than usual. This allowed him to use alkali glazes in bright colors with a glassy surface. Later, he raised his firing temperature and adjusted his color scale accordingly. Christian Poulsen developed a finely tuned scale of gray-white, yellow, blue, and blue-green colors that allowed his individual pieces to be juxtaposed so that they uniquely worked as a coherent artistic manifestation. His pieces were tightly modeled in simple, often almost monumental forms and had a strong, slightly grainy slip and a fairly thick glaze that often drifted towards the bottom.
Christian Poulsen's largest and most significant works include the stoneware fountain at the National Hearing Institute in Fredericia (1967), the Sirius Well at Grenå Gymnasium (1979), and the Celeste Well (1987) for the Geographical Garden in Kolding. Poulsen participated in a number of exhibitions, both domestically and internationally, including the Triennial in Milan in 1951, where he won a silver medal. In 1967, a solo exhibition of his work was held at the House of Denmark in Paris. In 1987, a retrospective exhibition was held at Trapholt. He is represented by works at the Museum of Decorative Arts and Louisiana and in a number of foreign museums and private collections, including the collection of King Gustav VI Adolf in Stockholm.
Christian Poulsen held several positions of trust within crafts organizations, including being Denmark's representative on the World Crafts Council from 1966-1970, and chairman of the committee for crafts and artistic design under the Danish Arts Foundation from 1970-1971. He received the Danish Crafts Prize of Honor in 1952 and the Eckersberg Medal in 1970.