BOUKE DE VRIES: War and Pieces, The Frick Pittsburgh

August 25, 2020 - January 24, 2021
“The Frick Art Museum’s Green Gallery now features War and Pieces, an extraordinary artwork by contemporary artist Bouke de Vries (Dutch, b. 1960). The artist assembled thousands of white porcelain fragments to create a 24’ long installation evoking the centuries-old tradition of creating elaborate tablescapes, yet wholly contemporary in its outlook.”
Learn more from The Frick Pittsburgh curator Dawn Reid Brean here


SPECIAL EVENT: London Studio Tour with Bouke de Vries


Join The Frick Pittsburgh for an up-close and personal look inside the London studio of Bouke de Vries, led by the artist himself. Explore his creative work space, see works in progress, and learn about the creation of War & Pieces, currently on view at The Frick Art Museum. Join the conversation with the Frick’s Associate Curator of Decorative Arts Dawn Reid Brean and learn about de Vries’ journey from conservator to artist creating “exploded” artworks and explore the beauty of destruction.

Free for members and students; $10 non-members and guests. Online; 60 min. approximate runtime.



War & Pieces is Bouke de Vries’ contemporary interpretation of the decorative sculptures that adorned 17th- and 18th-century banqueting tables.

War & Pieces is an eight-meter (26-foot) installation by Dutch-born artist Bouke de Vries inspired by the sophisticated figural centerpieces that decorated eighteenth-century European rulers’ banqueting tables. Displayed during the dessert course on special occasions, these figures first made of sugar and later increasingly porcelain, told stories or conveyed political messages to the diners.

Bouke de Vries draws on such traditions in his modern centerpiece, arranged around the mushroom cloud from a nuclear explosion whose force appears to have turned the entire table into a wasteland. Battle rages across this heap of shards old and new, fought by myriad miniature figures with conventional arms. Jesus on the cross and the Chinese Buddhist goddess of compassion, Guanyin, watch over the death and destruction.

War & Pieces is currently traveling North America in its extensive tour, landing at its fourth US location in 2020. The installation has been exhibited at venues in Europe and Asia, beginning in 2012 at the Holburne Museum in Bath, England with support from the Arts Council of Great Britain. At each venue, de Vries works with the curators and the collection by responding to the region and its history and interacting with the interior settings. In some venues, he was able to add to the installation using relevant objects from the collection, as at Charlottenburg Palace, which was looted in the Seven Years’ War and almost completely destroyed in the Second World War, adding a special meaning to this era-spanning work.


Born in Utrecht, The Netherlands, Bouke de Vries studied at the Design Academy Eindhoven and Central St Martin’s, London. After working with John Galliano, Stephen Jones, and Zandra Rhodes, he switched careers and studied ceramics conservation and restoration at West Dean College. He has been a full-time studio artist based in London since 2010.


Berrington Hall, Herefordshire, UK 2017
Gemeente Museum, The Hague, Netherlands 2015–6
Castle d’Ursel Hingene, Belgium 2015
Chateau de Nyon, Switzerland 2014–5
Yingge Ceramics Museum, Taiwan 2014
Charlottenburg Palace, Berlin, Germany 2013
Whitspace, Amsterdam, Netherlands 2013
Alnwick Castle, Alnwick, UK 2013
Charlottenburg Palace, Berlin, Germany 2013



Montgomery Fine Arts Museum | Montgomery, AL | February 2–June 2, 2019