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  Beatrice
Wood
Beatrice Wood (1893-1998) is known both for her shimmering pots and her long, extraordinary life. Although intrigued by the arts from an early age, Wood was 40 years old by the time she began experimenting with ceramics and found her true vocation.Before discovering her love for clay, Wood had forays into painting, drawing, writing, and theatre. Involved in everything from Vaudeville to Dada, she spent her youth searching for the right outlet for her artistic and creative energies, a search that lead her to experience an amazing variety of people and places.

Raised in New York by proper, aristocratic parents, by the age of 16 Wood felt stifled by the mores of high society and yearned to run away to Paris, where she planned to spend the rest of her days painting in a garret. Her mother, desperate to prevent all-out rebellion, finally sent her wily daughter on a chaperoned trip to France, where Wood studied acting at the Comedie Française and painting at the Academie Julien. Forced to return to New York by the advent of the war, the nineteen year old Wood soon found a place among the growing expatriate artist community there. She met Marcel Duchamp and his friend, writer and diplomat Henri Roche, and the three formed a close friendship. Together they founded the magazine Blind Man, one of the first manifestations of the Dada art movement in New York. They also frequented avant garde gatherings, spending many lively evenings at the home of collectors Walter and Louise Arsenberg, whose walls were hung with works by Picasso, Matisse and Braque.

Wood thrived on this intellectual, bohemian atmosphere, but her family continually pressured her to subdue her wild ways and join respectable society. Withering under her mother’s demands, Wood finally married her theatre manager. When the failed marriage ended three years later, New York no longer held the same magic for her. The Arsenbergs had relocated to Southern California due to financial troubles, and their social circle had dissolved. In need of a change, Wood went to see renowned Theosophy leader Krishnamurti, who was holding gatherings in Ojai, a small community outside of Los Angeles. Intrigued by the West Coast, she moved permanently to Los Angeles in 1928, and from there her life began to change. In 1930 she traveled to Europe with a friend and bought a set of Persian luster plates. Unable to find a teapot that matched, she signed up for a ceramics class at Hollywood High, hoping to make one herself. The teapot was long in coming, but Wood discovered her affinity for clay immediately. She soon set up a studio and began selling her work.

As a potter, Wood was fascinated by the glazing process from the beginning, and dedicated much energy to the study of luster glazing techniques. She also studied briefly with master potters Getrud and Otto Natzler, who impressed upon her the value of the ceramic vessel as fine art. Over the next fifteen years, Wood worked to establish a home and studio in Ojai, and began perfecting her own version of the luster glaze. At first this glaze adorned the more conventional dinner sets and figurines she made to keep her studio running, but by the early 1970’s, Wood had established a reputation as a fine artist. She turned her focus to more complex, decorative vessels, and her work was increasingly sought after by galleries and museums. By the time of her death at the age of 105, Wood had become a well-recognized figure in the world of ceramic art, renowned as much for her luster glaze as for her longevity, vitality, and charm.


Awards

1994     Governor’s Awards for the Arts (California)
1993     Recognition as A Role Model by Women in Film
1992     Gold Medal for Highest Achievement in Craftsmanship, American Craft             
                    Council
1988     Distinguished Service Award, Arizona State University
1987     Fellow of American Craft Council Women’s Art Caucus, National Award             
                    NCECA Award
1986     Women’s Building Award
1984     Living Treasure of California
1983     Symposium Award of the Institute for Ceramic History
1961     Goodwill Ambassador from USA to India – exhibition and lecture tour


Education

Ceramics with Gertrud and Otto Natzler, Los Angeles, 1940
University of Southern California (with Glen Lukens), 1938
Hollywood High School, Adult Education Department, California
Ceramics Class, 1933
Finch School, New York, 1911
Academie Julien, Paris, 1910


Museum Collections

Arizona State University Art Museum, Tempe, Arizona
Brooklyn Museum of Art, Brooklyn, New York
Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Charles A. Wustum Museum of Fine Arts, Racine, Wisconsin
Cooper Hewitt Museum, New York
Detroit Institute for the Arts, Detroit, Michigan
Everson Museum of Art, Syracuse, New York
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, California
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Museum of Arts and Design, New York
Museum of Fine Art, Boston, Massachusetts
Museum of Modern Art, New York
Newark Museum of Art, Newark, New Jersey
Oakland Museum, Oakland, California
Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Staatliche Museen Preussischer Kulturbesitz, Berlin, Germany
Victoria and Albert Museum, London, England




Selected Solo Exhibitions

1999     Beatrice Wood, Frank Lloyd Gallery, Santa Monica, California
            Drawing for Life, Achim Moeller Fine Art Gallery, New York
1997     Beatrice Wood: A Centennial Tribute, American Craft Museum, New York
                    traveling to: Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Santa Barbara, California;
                    Museum of Contemporary Art, Lake Worth, Florida; The Butler Museum,
                    Youngstown, Ohio
            Frank Lloyd Gallery, Santa Monica, California
            Garth Clark Gallery, New York
            Rena Bransten Gallery, San Francisco, California
1995     Beatrice Wood: Aphrodisia, CSUN Art Galleries, Northridge, California
            Garth Clark Gallery, New York and Los Angeles
1994     Garth Clark Gallery, New York and Los Angeles
1993     Garth Clark Gallery, New York, Los Angeles and Kansas City
1992     Garth Clark Gallery, New York, Los Angeles and Kansas City
1991     Garth Clark Gallery, New York
1990     Intimate Appeal, The Figurative Art of Beatrice Wood, Garth Clark Gallery,
                   New York and Los Angeles The Oakland Museum, Oakland,
                   California (traveling)
1989     Suzanne Hilberry Gallery, Birmingham, Michigan
1988     Garth Clark Gallery, New York, Los Angeles
1987     SPARC (Social and Public Arts Resource Center), Los Angeles, California
1986     Garth Clark Gallery, Los Angeles, California
            Hilberry Gallery, Ann Arbor, Michigan
            Beatrice Wood: A Legend, Fresno Art Center and Museum, Fresno, California
1985     Garth Clark Gallery, New York, Los Angeles
1984     Beatrice Wood: Retrospective, Garth Clark Gallery,
                    New York and Los Angeles
1983     Beatrice Wood Retrospective, Art Gallery, California State University,
            Fullerton and Everson Museum, Syracuse (traveling)
            Morgan Gallery, Kansas City, Missouri
            Garth Clark Gallery, Los Angeles, California
1982     Garth Clark Gallery, Los Angeles, California
1981     Beatrice Wood: A Very Private View, Garth Clark Gallery, Los Angeles, California
1978     Beatrice Wood: Ceramics and Drawings, Everson Museum of Art,
                    Syracuse, New York
1973     Beatrice Wood: A Retrospective, Phoenix Art Museum, Arizona (traveling)
1964     California Palace of the Legion of Honor, San Francisco, California
1962     Takashimaya Department Store, Tokyo
1959     Ceramics: Beatrice Wood, Pasadena Art Museum, Pasadena, California
1955     Ceramics by Beatrice Wood, American Gallery, Statler Center,
                    Los Angeles, California (traveling)
1951     B. Wood – Ceramics, Honolulu Academy of Art, Honolulu, Hawaii
1949     Ceramics of Beatrice Wood, American House, New York