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Born in 1924 to Greek immigrant parents in the town of Bozeman, Montana, Peter Voulkos is one of America’s most significant sculptors of the 20th century. Voulkos got his start in art in the late 1940s, when he was studying at Montana State College, Bozeman on the G.I. Bill, after being drafted and serving as an airplane armorer-gunner in the Pacific in World War II. In classes with Frances Senska, he discovered ceramics, the medium that would characterize his career. After graduating from Montana State College, Bozeman in 1951, Voulkos moved west and earned his MFA from the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland, California.

Returning to Montana after graduation, Voulkos attracted attention “as a prodigious natural potter and a producer of elegantly thrown functional earthenware,” according to Roberta Smith for the New York Times. He also produced dinnerware to sell through high-quality stores, and was noted for his wax-resist method of decoration.Voulkos gained a reputation as a master of ceramics techniques, winning twenty-nine prizes and awards from 1949 through 1955. However, a summer spent teaching at the experimental Black Mountain College (he was invited to teach at BMC by Karen Karnes) near Asheville, North Carolina in 1953 resulted in a dramatic shift in Voulkos’s artistic priorities, as well as his aesthetic. It was at Black Mountain College that Voulkos met Robert Rauschenberg, John Cage, Merce Cunningham and Charles Olson. He then visited New York City (as a guest of pianist David Tudor and Mary Catherine Richards) and encountered Philip Guston, Willem de Kooning and Franz Kline—Abstract Expressionist painters who influenced the new direction Voulkos would go on to pursue.

In 1954, Voulkos was invited to teach at the Los Angeles County Art Institute (now Otis), and he established a new ceramics department and graduate program that attracted other young artists including John Mason, Ken Price, Billy Al Bengston and Paul Soldner. It was here that, inspired by the scale and spontaneity of the New York School, Voulkos began to build progressively larger works that cast aside utility and abandoned ceramic conventions. Decoration became aggressive, as he slashed at and pierced the clay, which he then energetically painted with glaze. Peter Voulkos exhibited these new works in shows at the Landau Gallery in Los Angeles, which announced to the world a new way of approaching ceramics.

Disagreements with the more conservative administrators of the LA County Art Institute led to Voulkos’s departure for the University of California, Berkeley, in 1959. While at Berkeley, Voulkos experimented with bronze and produced large-scale bronze sculpture, while continuing his ceramic work and doing demonstrations of ceramics throughout the U.S. In 1979, a young ceramist named Peter Callas constructed the first Japanese wood fire kiln in the United States and Voulkos experimented with it, creating works that exploited the spontaneity of the process. The artist retired from his teaching position at Berkeley in 1985, and began working full-time on his own projects. If anything, his creativity and productivity seemed to accelerate in his later years, as he focused on clay and later, bronze.

The influence of Peter Voulkos on the field of ceramic art and sculpture is hard to overstate—Roberta Smith described the magnitude of his impact when she wrote, “few artists have changed a medium as markedly or as single-handedly as Mr. Voulkos.” Voulkos is often credited with contributing to the demolition of the traditional hierarchies between the fine arts and craft, and the elevation of ceramics out of the decorative arts to which they had been consigned. His work as an innovator, teacher, and colleague inspired generations of ceramists to push boundaries and find liberation in their medium.

Peter Voulkos passed away on February 15th, 2002 from a heart attack. During his lifetime, he was honored with countless awards and fellowships, and has exhibited in nearly 100 solo shows around the world. His work is represented in major museum collections, including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, Oakland Museum of Art, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and those listed below.


1952     Master of Fine Arts, California College of Arts and Crafts, Oakland
1951     Bachelor of Science in Applied Art, Montana State College, Bozeman

Museum Collections

Aichi Prefectural Ceramic Museum, Nagoya, Japan
Albany Mall, Albany, New York
American Museum of Ceramic Arts, Pomona, California
The Anderson Collection at Stanford University, Stanford, California
Archie Bray Foundation, Helena, Montana
Arizona State University Art Museum, Tempe, Arizona
Arkansas Arts Center,  Little Rock, Arkansas
Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
The Art Gallery, Paul Creative Arts Center, University of New Hampshire, Durham,
       New Hampshire
Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth, Australia
Australian National Gallery, Canberra, Australia
Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore, Maryland
Banff Centre, School of Fine Arts, Alberta, Canada
Boise Art Museum, Boise, Idaho
Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, Philadephia
Cincinnati Art Museum, Cinncinati, Ohio
City and County of San Francisco, San Francisco, California
City of Fresno, Fresno, California
City of Highland Park, Illinois
Contemporary Museum, Honolulu, Hawaii
Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
Cranbrook Academy of Art, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan
Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, California
Daum Museum of Contemporary Art, State Fair Community College, Sedalia, Missouri
David & Alfred Smart Museum of Art, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
Den Permanente, Copenhagen, Denmark
Denver Art Museum, Denver, Colorado
Des Moines Art Center, Des Moines, Iowa
Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit, Michigan
Elvehjem Museum of Art, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin
Everson Museum of Art, Syracuse, New York
Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, M. H. de Young Memorial Museum
Fine Arts Museum of the South, Mobile, Alabama
Franklin D. Murphy Sculpture Garden, University of California, Los Angeles, California
Fredrick R. Weisman Art Museum, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis
Henry Art Gallery, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington
Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York
Het Kruithuis, Museum of Contemporary Art‘s Hertogenbosch, Netherlands
High Museum of Art, Atlanta, Georgia
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, National Museum of American Art at the
       Renwick Gallery of Contemporary Crafts, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC
Holter Museum of Art, Helena, Montana
Honolulu Academy of Art, Honolulu, Hawaii
Ichon World Ceramic Center, Ichon, Kyonggi Province, Korea
Indiana University Art Museum, Bloomington, Indiana
International Museum of Ceramic Art, New York State College of Ceramics at
       Alfred University
Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, Kalamazoo, Michigan
Krannert Art Museum, University of Illinois, Champaign, Illinois
Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, La Jolla, California
Long Beach Museum of Art, Long Beach California
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, California
M. H. de Young Memorial Museum, San Francisco, California
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Minnesota Museum of American Art, St. Paul, Minnesota
Montana State University School of Art Permanent Collection, Bozeman, Montana
Musée des Arts Decoratifs de Montréal, Montréal, Canada
Museum Boymans van Beuningen, Rotterdam, Netherlands
Museum of Arts and Design (formerly the American Craft Museum), New York
Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, Illinois
Museum of Contemporary Ceramic Art, Shigaraki Ceramic Cultural Park, Japan
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas
Museum of Fine Arts, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Museum of Modern Art, New York
Museum of Modern Art, Wakayama, Japan
Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas, Texas
National Gallery of Art, Melbourne, Australia
National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto. Japan
Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri
Nora Eccles Harrison Museum, Utah State University, Logan, Utah
Nordenfjield Kunstindustrimuseum, Trondheim, Norway
Norton Simon Museum, Pasadena, California
Oakland Museum of Art, Oakland California
Palm Springs Desert Museum, Palm Springs, California
Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadephia, Pennsylvania
Phoenix Art Museum, Phoenix, Arizona
Portland Art Museum, Portland, Oregon
Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalanianaole Federal Building and United States Courthouse, Honolulu,
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, California
Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Santa Barbara, California
Scripps College, Claremont, California
Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, Washington
Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery & Scultpure Garden, University of Nebraska, Lincoln,
Southern Illinois University Art Museum, Carbondale, Illinois
St. Louis Art Museum, St. Louis, Missouri
Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Stedelijk Van Abbe Museum, Eindhoven, Netherlands
Tokyo Folk Art Museum, Tokyo, Japan
University Art Museum, University of California, Berkeley, California
University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado
University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida
University of Michigan Museum of Art, Ann Arbor, Michigan
Utah Museum of Fine Arts, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah
Victoria and Albert Museum, London, United Kingdom
Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York
Yamaguchi Prefectural Museum of Art, Japan
Yellowstone Art Museum, Billings, Montana

Selected Solo Exhibitions

2015     Peter Voulkos: Sculpture, Pottery, Prints, Frank Lloyd Gallery, Santa Monica,
2013     Peter Voulkos: Works, 1956 – 1997, Franklin Parrasch Gallery, New York
2011     A Survey, Frank Lloyd Gallery, Santa Monica, California
2009     The Montana, Otis & Berkeley Years, Braunstein/Quay Gallery, San Francisco,
2005     Peter Voulkos, Bronze: 1986-2002, Braunstein/Quay Gallery, San Francisco, CA
            Peter Voulkos: Echoes of the Japanese Aesthetic, American Museum of Ceramic
                   Art, Pomona, California
2004     Works on Paper, Frank Lloyd Gallery, Santa Monica, California
2003     Selected Work: 1953-2000, Frank Lloyd Gallery, Santa Monica, California
            Charles Cowles Gallery, New York
            Osceola Gallery, Emeryville, California
            LongHouse Reserve, East Hampton, New York
2002     Galerie Yoramgil, Beverly Hills, California
2001     Frank Lloyd Gallery, Santa Monica, California
            Braunstein/Quay Gallery, San Francisco, California
            Art Foundry Gallery, Sacramento, California
2000     Gallerymateria, Scottsdale, Arizona
            Sherry Leedy Contemporary Art, Kansas City, Missouri
            Anderson Ranch Arts Center, Snowmass Village, Colorado
            Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art, Utah State University at Logan, Logan, Utah
1999     Frank Lloyd Gallery, Santa Monica, California
            Mussi Artworks Foundry & Gallery, Berkeley, California (catalogue)
1998     Braunstein/Quay Gallery, San Francisco, California
            Charles Cowles Gallery, New York
1997     Perimeter Gallery, Chicago, Illinois
            University of Central Florida, Orlando, Florida
1996     Charles Cowles Gallery, New York
            Kenji Taki Gallery, Nagoya, Japan (catalogue)
            William Traver Gallery, Seattle, Washington
1995     Sezon Museum of Art, Tokyo, traveled to: the National Museum of Modern Art,
                    Kyoto, Japan (catalogue)
            Society for Contemporary Craft, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
            Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia, traveled to:
                    the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne; Fisher Gallery, Auckland,
                    New Zealand; and the Dowse Art Museum, Wellington,
                    New Zealand (brochure)
            The Oakland Museum, Oakland, California, traveled to: the Newport Harbor
                    Museum of Art, Newport Beach, California; and the American Craft Museum,
                    New York
            Braunstein/Quay Gallery, San Francisco, California
1993     Hordaland Kunstnersentrum, Bergen, Norway, traveled to: Ram Galleri,
                    Oslo, Norway; Kunstindustrimuseum, Trondheim, Norway; and
                    Kunstnernes Hus, Salthomsgade, Denmark;
                    Grimmerhus Center for International Studiokeramik, Middledfart, Denmark
                    Perimeter Gallery, Chicago, Illinois
                    Braunstein/Quay Gallery, San Francisco, California
1992     Louis Newman Galleries, Beverly Hills, California
1991     Leedy/Voulkos Gallery, Kansas City, Missouri
            Braunstein/Quay Gallery, San Francisco, California (catalogue)
1990     Charles Cowles Gallery, New York
1988     Twining Gallery, New York (catalogue)
            Thomas Segal Gallery, Boston, Massachusetts
1987     Braunstein/Quay Gallery, San Francisco, California
1986     Braunstein/Quay Gallery, San Francisco, California
1985     Bancho Gallery, Tokyo, Japan (brochure)
            Exhibit A, Chicago, Illinois
1984     Faith and Charity in Hope Gallery, Hope, Idaho (catalogue)
            Magnolia Gallery, Oakland, California
            Gallery 181, College of Design, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa
            Exhibit A, Chicago, Illinois
            Braunstein/Quay Gallery, San Francisco, California
1983     Art Center, Tokyo; traveled to Kyoto Art University, Kyoto, Japan;
            and the Tokoname Ceramic Research Center, Tokoname, Japan (brochure)
            Charles Cowles Gallery, New York
            Morgan Gallery, Kansas City, Missouri
1982     Braunstein/Quay Gallery, San Francisco, California
            Bruce Museum, Greenwich, Connecticut
1981     Charles Cowles Gallery, New York
            Jacksonville Art Museum, Jacksonville, Florida (brochure)
            Thomas Segal Gallery, Boston, Massachusetts
            Exhibit A, Chicago, Illinois
1980     Okun-Thomas Gallery, St. Louis, Missouri
            Morgan Gallery, Kansas City, Missouri
1979     Foster/White Gallery, Seattle, Washington
            Northern Arizona University Art Gallery, Flagstaff, Arizona (brochure)
            Hill’s Gallery of Contemporary Art, Santa Fe, New Mexico
1978     Exhibit A, Chicago, Illinois
            Braunstein/Quay Gallery, San Francisco, California
            San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; traveled to Contemporary Arts Museum,
                    Houston, Texas; Museum of Contemporary Crafts, New York; and the
                    Milwaukee Art Center, Milwaukee, Wisconsin (book)
            Exhibit A, Evanston, Illinois
1977     Contemporary Crafts, Portland, Oregon
1976     Exhibit A, Evanston, Illinois
            Yaw Gallery, Birmingham, Michigan
            Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit, Michigan (catalogue)
1975     Kemper Gallery, Kansas City Art Institute, Kansas City, Missouri; traveled to
                    Helen Drutt Gallery, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
            Braunstein/Quay Gallery, San Francisco, California
1974     Quay Gallery, San Francisco, California
1972     San Francisco Museum of Art, San Francisco, California (catalogue)
1968     Quay Gallery, San Francisco, California
            David Stuart Galleries, Los Angeles, California
1967     David Stuart Galleries, Los Angeles, California
1965     Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, California (catalogue)
1964     Hack Light Gallery, Scottsdale, Arizona
            Art Unlimited, San Francisco, California
1963     David Stuart Galleries, Los Angeles, California
1961     Primus-Stuart Galleries, Los Angeles, California
1960     Museum of Modern Art, New York (brochure)
1959     Felix Landau Gallery, Los Angeles, California (catalogue)
1958     Pasadena Art Museum, Pasadena, California
1957     Bonnier’s, New York
            Downstairs Gallery, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California
1956     Landau Gallery, Los Angeles, California
1954     American House Gallery, New York
1953     Art Gallery, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida