From Tabletop to Eternity: Andrew Raftery’s Plates

Exhibition Review

  • "Andrew Raftery: Autobiography of a Garden"

  • RYAN LEE, New York
  • 10 Sep 2016 - 05 Nov 2016
  • The Autobiography of a Garden

  • By Andrew Raftery, with thoughts by Cary Liebowitz
  • Published by the artist, Providence, RI, 2016

Installation view: “Andrew Raftery: Autobiography of a Garden,” Ryan Lee Gallery, New York, 2016. Courtesy of RYAN LEE, New York.

Andrew Raftery’s group of twelve transferware plates, entitled The Autobiography of a Garden, is an inventive amalgam of several time-honored art practices. The series combines the artist’s passion for 19th-century transferware, for American-scene typology, and for historical printmaking techniques. Raftery is well regarded for his revival of the Renaissance art of copper plate engraving, and employs it here to transform the homey genre of commemorative plates into art objects that wink at the mass-produced dinnerware of yore.

The Autobiography of a Garden is a vividly picturesque narrative cycle that chronicles the occupations of a committed gardener (Raftery) during the months of a year, from planning, propagating, designing, and all that follows, up through a kind of post-mortem that takes place as winter begins. Each scene includes the artist-gardener in either interior or landscape settings, and each describes an idealized world of comfortable, middle-class domesticity.

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