The Berlin-born ceramic artist’s showroom in the heart of Mitte has to be seen to be believed. The window display features an assortment of phallic statuettes, poodle-covered floor vases and homoerotic crockery. In the middle of it all, reclining on a slowly rotating plinth, sits a figurine of a sexually aroused male stripper, naked but for matching socks and a hat. “People are always stopping on the pavement outside to take photographs,” laughs Hinrich Kröger, who can usually be found hard at work in the back room, or firing up the kiln in the cellar below.
Kröger’s gift is to make the sexually explicit suitable for the mantelpiece. His risqué subject matter and undeniable skill at uniting form with painting have earned him comparisons to the Turner prizewinner Greyson Perry. While the New York Times describes Kröger as “naughty”, he is keen to point out that only a “small percentage” of his creations are erotic. The German parliamentary building in Berlin, for example, opted for one of his more family-friendly designs.
Hinrich Kröger opened his showroom on Gipsstrasse back in 1996, long before the area became known as the city’s gallery district. No two pieces are alike in his collection; each one is handcrafted and painstakingly painted, with prices ranging from €55 to €14,800. Kröger has proved particularly popular in New York and has a number of famous fans, including Hollywood A-listers Susan Sarandon and Harvey Keitel. One of Kröger’s most popular motifs, especially among Berlin hipsters, is the pug dog. “I owned pugs for 20 years. The first vase I ever painted with this design featured a beautiful woman holding a pair of pugs to her chest,” he smiles mischievously. For those not fluent in German, “pugs” is also slang for “breasts”. Cute, erotic and sometimes a bit of both, there’s a Hinrich Kröger to suit every taste.
(Berlin & I)