Curriculum Vitae

Nouveau Niche

Design Miami

New York gallerist Joern Lohmann champions cutting-edge decorative arts for the 21st century

Asked to define his specialization, New York gallerist Joern J. Lohmann proudly claims the mantle of “decorative arts.” While the phrasing may seem old fashioned to the uninitiated, the intriguing, intricately handmade work that he represents is anything but.

New York gallerist Joern J. Lohmann. Photo © J. Lohmann Gallery

Founded in 2006 and increasingly active on the fair circuit over the last decade, Lohmann’s eponymous gallery is perfectly aligned with the now, as a dynamic craft renaissance is being fueled by institutions, critics, and collectors alike. Sharply focused on contemporary expressions of ancient media like ceramic and glass, Lohmann’s program has been drawing a widening fandom, no doubt because it resonates so well with the larger cultural moment: Collectively, at long last, we seem to be rejecting that arbitrary line once drawn by Western theorists between the conceptual and the functional, between the fine and the decorative. With his keen eye for talent, Lohmann is doing his part to ensure “decorative arts” is synonymous with cutting-edge, intriguing, and even fun.

Scroll on for our conversation about his lifelong passion for beautiful objects, the delight he takes in working with artists, and what he has planned for Design Miami/ later this year.

Coral Vessels by Sandra Davolio, 2022. Photo © Ole Akhøj

For those who may be new to J. Lohmann Gallery, how would you encapsulate your gallery’s program?

We are a niche decorative arts and design gallery focused on outstanding ceramic and glass work. Our international artists, both established and emerging, are celebrated for their unique designs and groundbreaking techniques. Our clients include art collectors, interior designers, and museums worldwide.

I personally love to place objects in eclectic collections. For example, coupling contemporary ceramics with old master paintings, or a modern glass object with a rococo console table.

Pink Patchwork by Jongjin Park, 2023, Photo ©  J. Lohmann Gallery

What path led you to found the gallery?

Everything is rooted in my lifelong passion for art and antiques. As a child, I decorated my room with vintage furniture and decorative objects found in my grandparents’ attic, and I loved discovering interesting pieces at local crafts and flea markets. Later, as a university student, I was lucky to live in the city of arts, Munich, where I spent my time free exploring wonderful palaces, art museums, and exhibitions across a broad range of subjects.

Hoffy by Ahryun Lee, 2023. Photo © J. Lohmann Gallery

How do you choose the artists, designers, and makers that you represent?

The first glance is often decisive. An initial impression of the work’s color, movement, shape, and uniqueness draws my attention. Is this something that I could live with? What stories does the artist tell through the work? I rely on my eye first and hope that I can attract an audience to the work on an international level.

It is so rewarding to discover emerging artists, work closely with them, and see how they develop. At Design Miami/ later this year, we will debut an exciting new collection from the young, super talented ceramic artist Toni De Jesus, whose work was never shown in the US. We are so pleased to be working with him on this.

Amor-Perfeito by Toni De Jesus, 2023. Photo © Dewi Tannatt Lloyd

Please share a few works from your collection that especially embody the spirit of your gallery?

First, Sandra Davolio’s porcelain vases, characterized by organic forms inspired by ocean waves and coral. The first contemporary designer on our roster, she has had a profound impact on my career. I am so proud to have helped her art achieve a kind of “classic” status. At this year’s Design Miami/ we will feature a new collection from Sandra—important examples of which will be included in Denver Art Museum’s major multi-sensory exhibition, Biophilia: Nature Reimagined, set to open Spring 2024.

Next I’ll mention Jongjin Park’s patchwork vessels. I am fascinated by his revolutionary technique of harmoniously combining materials that are seemingly at odds with one another. He paints liquid porcelain onto single sheets of everyday paper towels, and the results are mind blowing! We will highlight his latest, amazing works at Design Miami/ as well.

And last but not least, the imaginative, playful, and joyful porcelain creations of Ahryun Lee, whose level of craftsmanship and attention to detail is extraordinary. Unexpected, humorous, and beautifully sculpted, these curious creatures make me happy. I have an early example in my private collection.

Collapsed Forms by Jongjin Park, 2023. Photo © J. Lohmann Gallery

How do you define “decorative arts” today? How does this area of creative production intersect with or diverge from design, fine art, and craft, in your view?

I think design, craft, sculpture, and decorative arts are very closely intertwined—they always have been. A ceramic sculpture superbly created by hand, for example, can be simultaneously a work of fine art and design. Design is art, in my view. If a work is made by hand—no matter if it is painted, sculpted, or crafted from various materials—it has the same importance to me.

Before modern times, decorative arts shared the same high status as painting and sculpture. In a 17th-century asset inventory for a Prague palace, for instance, one Bohemian bowl carved in rare yellow jasper was listed as 12 times more valuable than a painting by the great Titian.

Pookie by Ahryun Lee, 2022. Photo © J. Lohmann Gallery

What’s next for J. Lohmann Gallery?

We plan to focus on our strengths—ceramics and glass—while also exploring new materials like paper and wood. In New York later this year, we have plans to present new works by Brazilian paper artist Lis Costa.

As always, we are looking forward to participating in upcoming fairs, including New York and Miami in the coming months, as well as some pop-up shows planned for 2024 and 2025.

Wherever we are, we will continue to discover and support talents who push boundaries and spark creative discussions. ◆


Follow J. Lohmann Gallery on Instagram @jlohmanngallery.


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