A Birger Kaipiainen for Arabia stoneware and metal bronze 'Bead Bird' figure
1960 signed KAIPIAINEN on base
height 30in (76.2cm); width 37in (94cm)
Provenance: Acquired by the present owner in 1960 at the Arabia store in Helsinki, Finland. After the purchase, the offered lot was submitted to the Milan Triennale where it was one of a group of bead birds which were shown in the Finnish installation and ultimately won the Grand Prix of that year.
Birger Kaipiainen (1915-1988) was one of Finland's most successful modern ceramic artists. After graduating from the Central School of Arts and Craft, Kaipiainen began his work in the art department of the famous Arabia factory in Helsinki, where he mostly decorated vases and dishes. Kaipiainen distinguished himself at Arabia as a talented ceramicist. He worked as a designer there for over fifty years and died after a full day of work in 1988. Often called the "prince of ceramics", Kaipiainen's works often includes distinctive motifs such as birds, flowers, and fruit. His Paratiisi (Paradise) collection of tableware, was one of the only commercial collections of his career, and is considered a cultural icon of Finland. After being discontinued in 1974, public outcry led to its re-release in 1987. In the winter of 1949-1950, Kaipiainen worked at the Societa Ceramica Richard Ginori and in 1954 he left Arabia for a brief stint in Sweden at the firm of Rörstrand. In 1958 Kaipiainen returned to Arabia and this is when he began work on his famous beaded birds. These rare birds were crafted out of thousands of handmade beads created by Kaipiainen's assistant, Terho Reijonen. In 1960, Kaipiainen's large bead birds (curlews) were exhibited at the Milan Triennale where they won a Grand Prix. A version of the bird in the offered lot was put on a Finnish stamp, a testament to Kaipiainen's notoriety in the region. In 1977, Kaipiainen was made an honorary professor and in the following years given a state artist pension.