1886 – 1987
Rene Buthaud is recognized as perhaps the most important ceramicist of the French Art Deco movement, and with good reason. While the style that he developed is quite specific and recognizable, he produces pieces showing great stylistic variety, and drew inspiration from many sources.
Buthaud was born in Sainte, France, on December 14, 1881. He was artistic, and from 1903 until 1907, he studied at the École des Beaux Arts in Bordeaux. He was able to pursue his studies in Paris, thanks to a grant to attends the École des Beaux Arts in Paris, where he studied until 1913. He studies many aspects of art, including painting and engraving, and in 1911, he had work of sufficient quality to show at the Salon des Artistes Français. He did a number of beautiful paintings, and subsequently some of these images can be seen in his ceramics. He was subsequently awarded the Attainville Prize — an award comparable to the Prix de Rome, and in fact, his engraving did subsequently win second prize in 1914 at the Prix de Rome.
Buthaud served in the military during WW2, and when he returned to Bordeaux in 1918, he turned his interests to other media. He learned glass making and, most importantly, ceramics. Bordeaux was an important place to be at that time, as many important Art Deco artists, among them Jean Dupas, were working there.
It was Dupas who encouraged him to concentrate his talents on ceramics. Buthaud constructed his own kiln, and began using elements from his art work for his ceramics. He did not make the actual forms, but rather decorated blank forms supplied by a ceramicist.
Buthaud drew inspiration from numerous sources. African art was an important influence for many Art Deco creators, and can be found in Rene’s work. He also made use of the geometry that was a major element of Art Deco design, but perhaps his best pieces are figural, with stylized women and vegetation portrayed in his own very distinctive style. While he did sometimes use color, his preferred palette tended to black, brown and earth colors. He also produced a number of pieced that are characterized by curved abstraction, often with crackle glazes. These are often signed Doris, which had to do with problems in exporting his work to other countries.
In 1919, he had the honor of being the only ceramicist to have his work displayed at the prestigious Salon des Artists Decorateurs and the Salon d’Automne in Paris. His work was very well received, and was admired by Maurice Denis and Jean Dunand, who actually purchased his work. It was Dunand who nominated Buthaud for the Floren American Prize, and he was awarded 25,000 French Francs. As his reputation grew, he was made a member of the jury for the Exposition des Arts Decoratifs, where he also exhibited his work. he returned to Bordeaux soon after, and improved his kiln, which enabled him to produce superior work.
Buthaud’s work is highly sought-after today, and has been exhibited in a number of major museums, among them the Museé des Arts Decoratifs and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York city.