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It makes good sense to use clay for pots, vases, pitchers, and platters, but I like to have things both ways. I make things that could be functional, but I really want them to be considered works of art.

-Betty Woodman*

Betty Woodman (1930-2018) was internationally recognized as one of the most important ceramic artists. Through her inventive use of color and form and her expert blend of a wide range of influences, she created exuberant and captivating ceramic sculpture.

Employing many forms, from fragmented wall vases to bronze benches to pillow pitchers, she presented a delightful gathering of influences and traditions. Woodman traveled extensively, finding inspiration in cultures around the world. Artist and writer Jeff Perrone has described Woodman’s remarkable ability to draw on many sources:

As a body of work, her ‘style’ is an ever-changing constellation of ceramic styles…This ceramic eclecticism is an implicit critique of modernist “purity”, the leveling of variety and difference. But Woodman’s eclecticism, her pluralism is not a scrambling or confusion of systems. It is the selection of what is best from various styles; it requires more care, more orderliness to be an eclectic than to apply a single standard or adhere to a single model.

For Woodman, this eclectic gathering was an essential part of her process:

Things emerge in my studio from a seen image or experience that gets recalled in whatever work I am doing. The work becomes a conduit of the memory of a painting, a landscape, architecture, or some other visual stimulus. Once it starts to manifest itself in my art, the topic and subject then gets further researched in books, visits to museums, or by another trip.

Drawing no boundaries between traditions of fine art and craft, Woodman took elements from the rich heritage of each and made them her own. She used the motif of the vase and the vessel repeatedly, allowing it to enrich her exploration of formal and painterly traditions:

The centrality of the vase in my work is certainly a reference to a global perspective on art history and production.The container is a universal symbol- it holds and pours all fluids, stores foods, and contains everything from our final remains to flowers. The vase motif connects what I do to all aspects of art. I can mix the motifs of a classic Greek vase on one side of a triptych with the details of a Japanese print on the other all conveyed with a palette based on the hues of a recollected Hindu temple.

Professor of philosophy and writer Arthur Danto agrees about the solvency of the vase form in Woodman’s work:

Woodman’s vases project the use with which their meaning is connected, but at the same time declare their affinity with the Modernist art to which they owe their visual interest and originality. To live with one of Woodman’s pieces is to connect oneself with both sets of meanings- the eternal human meanings of the vase as subject, and the historical meanings of the vase as form.

Betty Woodman lived and worked in New York City and Antella, Italy. Her work has been shown around the world in exhibitions in France, Italy, Holland and Japan. The Metropolitan Museum, New York presented a retrospective of Woodman’s work in June 2006.

*All remarks by Betty Woodman are drawn from an interview with curator Patterson Sims, published by the Montclair Art Museum, New Jersey, for the exhibition Two Bronze Benches and Four "Ceramic Pictures" of Korean Paintings (November 23, 2002 - April 13, 2003)


2000     Honorary Fellow, National Council of Educators in Ceramic Arts
1998     The Visionary Award of the American Craft Museum, New York
1995     Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship, Bellagio Study Center, Italy
1993     Distinguished Research & Creative Lectureship, University of Colorado,             Boulder
1987     Governor’s Award in the Arts, Colorado
1986     National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship
1980     National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship
1966     Fulbright-Hays Scholarship to Florence, Italy


Alfred University, School for the American Craftsman, Alfred, New York, 1948-50

Museum Collections

Alfred University, State University College of Ceramics, Alfred, New York
American Craft Museum, New York
American Ambassador’s Residence, Stockholm, Sweden
Archie Bray Foundation, Collection, Helena, Montana
The Arkansas Art Center, Little Rock, Arkansas
Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts
Boymans-Van Beuningen Museum, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
The Brooklyn Museum of Art, New York
Carnegie-Mellon Institute, Pittsburg, Pennsylvania
Cincinnati Art Museum, Cincinnati, Ohio
Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, Ohio
Colorado State University at Fort Collins, Colorado
Contemporary Crafts Association, Portland, Oregon
Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum, New York
Daum Museum of Contemporary Art, Sedalia, Missouri
Denver Airport, Denver, Colorado
Denver Art Museum, Denver, Colorado
Detroit Art Institute, Detroit, Michigan
Het Kruithuis, s’Hertongenbosch, The Netherlands
International Ceramic Museum, Faenza, Italy
Joslyn Art Museum, Omaha, Nebraska
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, California
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Mills College, Antonio Pireto Memorial Collection, Oakland, California
Mint Museum of Craft and Design, Charlotte, North Carolina
Musee des Arts Decoratifs, Paris, France
Museum Het Princessehof, Leeuwarden, The Netherlands
Museum of Decorative Arts of Montreal, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Newark Museum, Newark, New Jersey
Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Provincial Museum Voor Moderne Kunst, Oostende, Belgium
Renwick Gallery, National Museum of American Art, Washington, DC
Rhode Island School of Design Art Museum, Providence, Rhode Island
St. Louis Museum of Art, St. Louis, Missouri
Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
The Tampa Museum of Art, Tampa, Florida
University of Arizona, Tempe, Arizona
University of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
University of Utah Museum of Fine Arts, Salt Lake City, Utah
The Victoria and Albert Museum, London, England
Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, Connecticut
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York
World Ceramic Center, Ichon, Korea
Yale University Art Museum, New Haven, Connecticut

Selected Solo Exhibitions

* catalogue
+ traveling

2007     Memories, Carl Solway Gallery, Cincinnati, Ohio
2006     The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York*
2006     Betty Woodman: New Work, Max Protetch Gallery, New York
2005     Betty Woodman: Recent Ceramic Sculpture, Frank Lloyd Gallery, Santa Monica,
2005     Betty Woodman, Max Protetch Gallery, New York
2003     Frank Lloyd Gallery, Santa Monica, California
2003     Souvenirs, Max Protetch Gallery, New York
2002     Daum Museum of Contemporary Art, Sedalia, Missouri*
            Two Bronze Benches and Four Ceramic Pictures of Korean Paintings,             
                    Montclair Art Museum, Montclair, New Jersey
2001     Betty Woodman, Max Protetch Gallery, New York
2000     Betty Woodman & Robert Barni: due e vasi, Centro D’Arte La Loggia,             
                    Montefiridolfi, Italy
            Pots, Paper, Prints, Mizel Arts Center at the JCC, Denver
            Clay, Bronze, Paper, Max Protetch Gallery, New York
            Works from the 1980’s, Franklin Parrasch Gallery, New York
1999     Blanden Memorial Art Museum, Fort Dodge, Iowa*
            Recent Work of Prints and Vases, Bethel College, St. Paul, Minnesota
            Betty Woodman: Glass, Cirva, Marsielle, France*
1998     Provincial Museum voor Moderne Kunst, Oostende, Belgium*+ (originated at
                    Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, 1996)
            Max Protetch Gallery, New York
            New Jersey Center for Visual Arts, Summit, New Jersey*
1997     Fundaçào Calouste Gulbenkian, Lisbon, Portugal*+ (originated at Stedelijk             
                    Museum, Amsterdam, 1996)
            Museé d’Art Contemporain, Dunkerque, France*+ (originated at Stedelijk             
                    Museum, Amsterdam, 1996)
            Max Protetch Gallery, New York
1996     Max Protetch Gallery, New York
            Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam*+
1995     Denver Art Museum, Denver, Colorado
            International Museum of Ceramics, Faenza, Italy
1994     Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
            Carin Delcourt van Krimpen Gallery, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
            Max Protetch Gallery, New York
            Museé des Arts Decoratifs, Paris, France+ (originated at Het Kruithuis Den
            Gallery Camino Real, Boca Raton, Florida
1993     Max Protetch Gallery, New York
            Il Giardino Dipinto, Het Kruithuis Den Bosch, The Netherlands,+ (installation,
                    originated at Het Kruithuis Den Bosch, Holland)
            Barney Wycoff Gallery, Aspen, Colorado
1992     Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, Connecticut
            Somewhere between Naples and Denver, (originally installed at Denver Art Museum,
                    1988), Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
1991     Betty Woodman: Works in Clay, Johnson County Community College,
                    Gallery of Art, Overland Park, Kansas
            Opera Selecta: The Work of Betty Woodman (1975-1990) Museé des Arts
                    Modernes, Aix-le-Bain, France
1990     Francesca Pia Gallery, Berne, Switzerland
            Recent Work, Max Protetch Gallery, New York
            Opera Selecta: The Work of Betty Woodman (1975-1990) Het Kruithuis Den
                    Bosch, The Netherlands*+
1989     Lobby Project: Betty Woodman, Museum of Modern Art, New York
            Rena Bransten Gallery, San Francisco, California
            Unique Porcelains, Max Protetch Gallery, New York
1988     Somewhere Between Naples and Denver, Denver Art Museum, Denver, Colorado
            Recent Work, Max Protetch Gallery, New York
            Rena Bransten Gallery, San Francisco
            Lobby Project: Betty Woodman/Three Palace Matrons, Museum of Modern
                    Art, New York
1987     Boulder Center for the Visual Arts, Boulder, Colorado
            Carlton College, Northfield, Minnesota
            Greenberg Gallery, St Louis, Missouri*
1986     Max Protetch Gallery, New York
            Rena Bransten Gallery, San Francisco, California
            Susan Hilberry Gallery, Birmingham, Michigan
1985     The Ceramics of Betty Woodman, Freedman Gallery at Albright College,
                    Reading, Pennsylvania*
            Gloria Luria Gallery, Bay Harbor Islands, Florida
            Presenting Food, FabricWorkshop, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (Collaboration with
                    Daniel Mattrocce)
            Italian Vases, Max Protetch Gallery, New York
1983     Garth Clark Gallery, Los Angeles, California
            The Houston Room, Hadler/Rodriguez Gallery, New York
            Max Protetch Gallery, New York
1982     Garth Clark Gallery, Los Angeles, California
            An Interior Exchange, Fashion Institute of Technology, New York
                    (Collaboration with Cynthia Carlson)
1981     A Cloistered Arbor Room, Bennington College, Bennington, Vermont
            Tibor de Nagy Gallery, New York (Collaboration with Joyce Kozloff)
            Okun-Thomas Gallery, St. Louis, Missouri
            Helen Drutt Gallery, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
1980     Amalgam Art Limited, London, England
            Galleria Pirra, Torino, Italy*
            Canvas Constructions and Painted Pots, Hadler/Rodriguez Gallery, New York
            Mostly Italian Pots, Hadler/Rodriguez Gallery, New York
            Rochester Art Center, Minnesota*
1979     Art Latitude, New York
            Hills Gallery, Santa Fe, New Mexico
1978     Casper College, Casper, Wyoming
            Greenwich House Pottery, New York
            Lyda Levi Gallery, Milano, Italy
1977     Honor Exhibit, Colorado Women’s College, Denver
            Kansas State College, Emporia
            United States Information Service Gallery, Milano, Italy
1976     Clay and Fiber Gallery, Taos, New Mexico
1975     Nelson-Fosdick Gallery, Alfred University, Alfred, New York
            Contemporary Crafts Gallery, Portland, Oregon
1974     One Hundred Italian Pots, Boulder, Colorado
1972     Raku, Kusthankel Ina Broerse, Amsterdam, The Netherlands (collaboration
                    with George Woodman)
1970     Salt Glaze, Joslyn Art Museum, Omaha, Nebraska
1969     Salt Glaze, Archie Bray Foundation, Helena, Montana