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Phil Cornelius (b. 1934) likes working his own way. He is an artist aware of his ability to, as he puts it, “do the wrong thing and have it come out right." His signature “thinware”, which he has been producing since the early 1970’s, is ultra-thin and fired “right to the edge." These are difficult elements to bring together, but it works. The vessels he creates, while appearing delicate and vulnerable, are actually very strong, and have a kind of toughness to them. Beyond the unique construction of his vessels, the imagery he integrates into them also makes them unusual. While songbirds perching on teapots may seem benign, in Cornelius’ work nothing is that simple. The clever titles he gives each piece often allude to its multiple meanings. In his work songbirds may be sirens and teapot spouts, gun barrels.

Talented in the visual arts since an early age, Cornelius originally chose science as a major in college because he thought art would be too easy. When he was drafted into the US army in the middle of his college career, he used his 18 month tour of Europe to reacquaint himself with art, visiting museums and galleries during his off-duty hours. Returning to San Jose State University for his final year of undergraduate work, he took a ceramics class and found the medium to be both inspiring and demanding. After studying at the Claremont Colleges with Paul Soldner, he embarked on his career as a ceramist, determined to constantly push his work to the limits. Since 1965 he has been both an artist and a teacher, teaching at Pasadena City College and working in a local studio. His pieces can now be seen in major museum collections throughout the United States and Europe, and he is recognized in the ceramics community for his distinctive contributions to the medium.


San Jose State University
Claremont Graduate School

Museum Collections
Arizona State University Art Museum
Everson Museum, Syracuse, New York     
French National Collection, Sevres, France
Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Mint Museum of Craft & Design, Charlotte, North Carolina
Oakland Museum, Oakland, California
The Racine Art Museum, Racine, Wisconsin
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.
St. Louis Art Museum, Missouri     
Taipei Fine Art Museum, Taipei, Taiwan
Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Selected Solo Exhibitions

2003     Firehouse Gallery and Art Center, Norman, Oklahoma
1999     Dorothy Weiss Gallery, San Francisco
1998     Frank Lloyd Gallery, Santa Monica
            Sybaris Gallery, Royal Oak, Michigan
1997     Frank Lloyd Gallery, Santa Monica
            The Clay Studio, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
1996     Dorothy Weiss Gallery, San Francisco
1995     Garth Clark Gallery, Los Angeles
            Illinois Wesleyan University, Bloomington, Illinois
1994     Brendabella Art Center Canaberra, Australia National University
1993     Gallery Arka, Vilnius, Lithuania
1992     Sybaris Gallery, Royal Oak, Michigan
1991     Garth Clark Gallery, Los Angeles
            Dorothy Weiss Gallery, San Francisco
1989     Garth Clark Gallery, Los Angeles
1988     Garth Clark Gallery, New York
            Dorothy Weiss Gallery, San Francisco
            Harbor College Art Gallery, Wilmington, California
1986     Dorothy Weiss Gallery, San Francisco
1985     Esther Sak’s Gallery, Chicago, Illinois
1984     Dorothy Weiss Gallery, San Francisco
            Southwest Crafts Center, San Antonio, Texas
            Brentwood Gallery, St. Louis, Missouri
            Anderson Ranch, Snowmass, Colorado
            Garth Clark Gallery, Los Angeles
1983     Garth Clark Gallery, Los Angeles
            Anderson Ranch, Snowmass, Colorado
1982     Dorothy Weiss Gallery, San Francisco     
            Hadler Rodriguez Gallery, New York
1981     Marcia Rodell Gallery, Los Angeles
1980     Aarnun Gallery, Pasadena, California
            Belson Brown Gallery, Ketchum, Idaho
            Marcia Rodell Gallery, Los Angeles
1979     Sun Valley Art Center, Sun Valley, Idaho
            Meyer Breier and Weiss, San Francisco
1978     Aarnun Gallery, Pasadena, California
            Cerro Coso College, Ridgecrest, California
1977     Anderson Ranch, Snowmass, Colorado
            Four Elements Gallery, San Francisco
1976     Aarnun Gallery, Pasadena, California
            Davis Art Center, Davis, California
1974     Ross/Friedman Gallery, Northridge, California
            Mira Costa College, Carlsbad, California
1972     Brand Art Center, Glendale, California
1967     CeeJay Gallery, Los Angeles