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In the hands of Kurt Weiser, (b. 1950) the centuries-old tradition of china paint on porcelain is given new life.  Weiser’s sumptuous, provocative teapots and jars, resplendent with lush jungle scenes, can be both alluring and unsettling.  Detailed depictions of tropical splendor become wayward reveries as radiant colors and subtle distortions transform classic porcelain vessels.

Weiser, trained in ceramics at the Kansas City Art Institute and the University of Michigan, originally worked in an abstract, non-representational style with minimal surface decoration. While director of the Archie Bray foundation in Helena, Montana from 1977-88, he began to feel limited by this approach and contemplated new ways of working.  Around 1990, he took the first step towards his current style when he covered a porcelain teapot with intricate botanical imagery using black and white sgraffito. After making a series of visits to Thailand, where he was inspired by the region’s luxuriant, intensely colored flora and fauna, a black and white palette no longer satisfied him.  Seeking to capture Thailand’s richness, he began to experiment with China paints.  Soon his skill as a colorist became an indispensable element of his work.

With the introduction of color into his work, Weiser also began to indulge his narrative impulses by incorporating figurative elements, drawn both from fantasy and art history, into his jungle scenes. Weiser’s figures, often nude and distorted across the planes of his vessels, move through steamy, Eden-like landscapes, interacting with the natural world they encounter. Themes of lust, predation, scientific curiosities, and the vulnerability of both man and nature abound in these scenes, resonating curiously with the cultivated vessel forms and refined medium Weiser has chosen.

Although Weiser has worked in this style for more than ten years, his work continues to evolve.  The technical challenge of the overglazing process he uses, which requires multiple firings for each vessel and careful attention to the order in which colors are applied, forces him to thoroughly consider each piece he creates.  Through refining this method of working, he has learned to take full advantage of the three-dimensionality of his surfaces by extending his scenes to fully encompass each vessel. In his recent work, he says that the softened, amorphous forms of his vessels should blend with their seamlessly painted surfaces so that the pots fade from view and “the painting is the three dimensional reality” floating in space as would a dream or reverie.  Whether Weiser’s work is interpreted as three-dimensional painting or sensuously decorated porcelain, the pots he creates are among the most vivid and decadent of modern ceramics, providing a distinctive contribution to the ever-expanding medium.

1999     Arizona Commission on the Arts, Artist Fellowship
            Regents Professorship A.S.U.
1998     Asian Cultural Council, Artist Fellowship
            Research and Creative Activity Award, A.S.U.
1992     Artists Fellowship: National Endowment for the Arts
1990     Artists Project Award: Arizona Commission on the Arts
1989     Artists Fellowship: National Endowment for the Arts
1986     Artists Fellowship: Montana Arts Council


1976     M.F.A. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
1972     B.F.A. Kansas City Art Institute, Missouri
1967     Interlochen Arts Academy, Interlochen, Michigan

Museum Collections

Archie Bray Foundation, Helena, Montana
Arizona State University Art Museum, Tempe
Carnegie Mellon Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Ceramics Monthly Magazine, Columbus, Ohio
Charles A.Wustum Museum of Fine Arts, Racine, Wisconsin
Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, California
The George M. Gardiner Museum of Art, Toronto, Canada
Hallmark Cards, Inc., Kansas City, Missouri
Hamline University, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Helsinki Museum of Applied Arts, Helsinki, Finland
Kansas City Art Institute, Kansas City, Missouri
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles
Mesa Arts Center, Mesa, Arizona
Mint Museum of Art, Charlotte, North Carolina
Muscarelle Museum of Art, Williamsburg, Virginia
Museum of Contemporary Ceramics, Shigaraki, Japan
National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC
National Museum of History, Republic of China, Taipei, Taiwan
Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art, Utah State University, Logan, Utah
Portland Art Museum, Portland, Oregon
Rhode Island School of Design Museum of Art, Providence, Rhode Island
Schien-Joseph International Museum of Ceramic Art at Alfred University, Alfred, New York
University of Nebraska, Lincoln, Nebraska
Valley National Bank, Phoenix, Arizona
Victoria & Albert Museum, London, England
Washington University Art Museum, St. Louis, Missouri
Winnipeg Art Museum, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Yellowstone Arts Center, Billings, Montana

Selected Solo Exhibitions

2009     Frank Lloyd Gallery, Santa Monica
2007     Kurt Weiser: A Mid-Career Survey, organized by the Arizona State      
            University Art Museum, Ceramics Research Center, curated by Peter Held,             traveling, (catalogue)
2005     Globes, Garth Clark Gallery, New York
            55 Cups, Holter Museum of Art, Helena, Montana
2002     Garth Clark Gallery, New York
2001     Frank Lloyd Gallery, Santa Monica
2000     Garth Clark Gallery, New York
1999     Working His Way Around China, Montgomery Museum of Art, Montgomery,             Alabama
1998     Frank Lloyd Gallery, Santa Monica
1996     Garth Clark Gallery, New York
            Joanne Rapp Gallery, Scottsdale, Arizona
1995     Garth Clark Gallery, New York
1994     Garth Clark Gallery, Los Angeles
1993     Garth Clark Gallery, New York
            Joanne Rapp Gallery, Scottsdale, Arizona
1992     Garth Clark Gallery, Los Angeles
1990     Garth Clark Gallery, New York
1987     Hui Noeau Center for Visual Arts, Maui, Hawii
1986     Lawrence Gallery, Portland, Oregon
            Salem Art Association, Salem, Oregon
1985     White Bird Gallery, Cannon Beach, Oregon
            Paris Gibson Square Art Center, Great Falls, Montana
1984     Yellowstone Art Center, Billings, Montana
            Anderson Ranch Arts Center, Aspen, Colorado
            Lawrence Gallery, Portland, Oregon
            Cohen Gallery, Denver, Colorado
1983     Brentwood Gallery, St. Louis, Missouri
            Hand and Spirit Gallery, Scottsdale, Arizona
            Craftsman Gallery, Omaha, Nebraska
1982     Surroundings Gallery, New York
            The Craftsmen’s Gallery, Scarsdale, New York
            Garth Clark Gallery, Los Angeles
1981     White Bird Gallery, Cannon Beach, Oregon
1976     Kurt Weiser, Artforms Gallery, Detroit