Meet the Artist
Vassil Ivanoff was the son of Maria Koitcheva and Ivan Ivanov. After the First World War, he became a teacher and began studying plastic art, painting, drawing and theatrical decoration in Bulgaria.
Settled in France in 1922, first in Marseille, then in Paris, he exercised, until 1945, several professions: house painter, painter, decorator, fabric painter and art photographer. He married Henriette Moser in 1927 with whom he had two kids, Ania and Vania.
He spent nearly two decades in Paris, hosted in Philippe Halsman's ex studio after the latter left for NYC. Halsman, the famous American photographer, was the husband of Henriette's sister, Yvonne.
Vassil travelled before the war, most notably to Greece and Bulgaria.
Before leaving Paris and his family for La Borne, he photographed and painted a lot. This website displays a number of his pictures.
Around the age of 50 he discovered the art of clay by reading the Art of Pottery, a book by the English ceramist William Lee. He then chose to make it his profession.
He settled in La Borne in 1946 to devote himself to the work of sandstone. A good depiction of La Borne was provided by Dr. Patrick Mc Coy in his thesis (see http://laborne-renaissance.eu/, Chapter XVIII is about Ivanoff).
In La Borne, he met his new lifetime partner, Denise Roux. Equipped with a wood-fired oven, he himself looked for raw clay, oak wood to fuel his oven, turned, prepared his enamels and cooked, determined to discover all the mysteries of pottery.
The quality of its oxblood enamels contributed to its reputation and placed it in the great tradition of the ceramists of this pottery centre. A prominent figure of the 20th century, he was considered the first ceramic expressionist.
His unclassifiable sculptures, the result of assembling turned and cut pieces, testify by their monumental character to the evolution towards plastic ceramics.
Vassil Ivanoff is at the origin of the revival of modern ceramics, and in particular that of stoneware which reached its peak in the 1970s.
His work, made up of nearly three thousand pieces, evolved between traditional pottery made on the wheel and sculptor's ceramics. We discover three types of creations: engobed plates and pieces with engraved decoration, sculptures and enamelled pots. (credits to Wikipedia).
His work has been promoted since 1973 by the "Vassil Ivanoff Association", created by Denise Roux and friends : it presented a selection of works of art in the original settings of his workshop and kiln. In 2022, the Association transferred its mission and the works it had to "Association Musée de la Borne". You can find more information at http://museelaborne.com/about.
A short French version of Vassil's biography is presented by Christine Lavenu in her Art Angelux Website.