Born in Dresden in 1936, Peter Strang entered the art school of the Meissen manufactory in 1950, graduating with honours in 1954, and going on to study Sculpture at the Dresden School of Fine Art .
Having gained his diploma, he returned to Meissen in 1960, where with Heinz Werner and Ludwig Zepner he was a founder-member of the Group for Artistic Development.
This team of artists (who were later joined by Volkmar Bretscheider and Rudi Stolle) revitalised Meissen’s outlook on what was acceptable as porcelain art. For too long it had been stultified by the company’s devotion to its baroque inheritance, and been made timid by toeing the line of proletarian ideals. Meissen had played it safe. The Group was about to change all that.
Werner and Zepner were the designers, Strang the chief sculptor. For three decades under Zepner’s guiding hand they combined their talents in selfless dedication to their art form, but it was the vision, wit and vigour of Strang’s modelling that defined their idiom.
He created a series of outstanding pieces based on the theatre – ‘Oberon’ and ‘Titania and Bracelet Bottom’ from ‘A Mid-Summer Night’s Dream’, and ‘Mackie’s Wedding’ from ‘The Threepenny Opera’- groups suitable for use as centrepieces to decorate tables after the fashion of the eighteenth century, but entirely modern in concept and décor.
He was drawn to other forms of entertainment, especially to the circus. A set of five clowns playing musical instruments (portraits, in fact, of himself and his colleagues) was expanded to become a fourteen-strong orchestra, jewel-like creations only a few inches high but alight with vigour, colour and comedy.
Six figures from cabaret – conjurers, jugglers, a fire-eater, a snake-charmer and an elephant-trainer – testify to the fascination that illusion held for him. Like Kaendler, the early master of figurative porcelain, he was aware that the apparent ease with which these feats were carried out were the result of years of dedicated application – a metaphor for the art and craft of the porcelain sculptor.
But whatever the subject to which he is drawn – for he still models – whether to creatures of fable, myth or fiction, to football, hunting or golf, his interpretation is always robust and light-hearted, enriched with wit and sensuality.