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For over a decade, Roseline Delisle (1952-2003) dreamed of making large-scale ceramic sculpture. She first realized her goal in an exhibition of six figurative sculptures in the fall of 1996. Her recent work presents a vision of purity and perfection, a world of balance and symmetry. Their stability and strength complement the precision of the slender, seemingly fragile figures. Bold and graphic, the tall and totemic sculptures are deeply rooted in early twentieth century abstraction. Delisle’s ability to marry these polarities is her triumph.

Although most of her early work was made in the demanding medium of fired porcelain, Delisle turned to an earthenware clay body to realize her ambitious figurative pieces. The years of experience with porcelain proved valuable, as she developed a means of stacking sections of interlocking cylinders to create larger forms. The first six sculptures were made of eight, ten or eleven different elements, fused together in a nearly seamless line. With foot, body, waist and head, these hollow vessels have a human presence. The artist is in control of her elements—line, form, volume and color—yet is able to find a fertile ground for exploration.

Many viewers and writers have noted Roseline’s success in the unification of opposites. It is true that her vertical forms are striped with horizontal bands, the sharp profiles are softened by a smooth, rich surface, and the nearly mechanical precision is offset by their obvious figurative references. Technical and formal concerns are one means of access; another is the presence and historical awareness in these new large works.

Delisle cites as seminal influences the Suprematist drawings of Malevich, the Constructivist theatre and ballet designs of Oskar Schlemmer, and the line drawings of Picasso. Her primary influences in the world of ceramics have been Lucie Rie (delicacy of form, use of line) and John Mason (monumentality, minimalism). Despite her awareness of these historical sources and her relentless reductivist sensibility, Roseline allows some interplay between intellect and intuition.

Recently the artist has begun to group her figures together in pairs and small families. A pair of sculptures, side by side, is quickly recognized as a couple. Delisle delights in pointing out the anatomical signifiers—female and male—and in emphasizing the interplay of negative space between the two. When she adds a third, smaller figure, the “family” resembles her own—mother, father and daughter. Thus, her abstracted figures become immediate and personal.


1969-73  Institute of the Applied Arts, Montreal, Canada

Museum Collections

Aichi Prefectural Ceramic Museum, Seto, Japan
Arizona State University Museum, Tempe, Arizona
Canadian Museum of Civilization, Hull, Québec, Canada
Charles A. Wustum Museum of Fine Arts, Racine, Wisconsin
Cincinnati Museum of Arts, Cincinnati, Ohio
Cooper-Hewitt Museum, New York
Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit, Michigan
Everson Museum of Arts, Syracuse, New York
Getty Center for the History of Art and Humanities, Brentwood, California
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, California
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Montréal, Canada
Musée des Beaux Arts, Montréal, Canada
Musée du Québec, Québec, Canada
Newark Museum, Newark, New Jersey
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, California
Tokyo National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, Japan

Selected Solo Exhibitions

2014     Frank Lloyd Gallery, Santa Monica, California
2000     John Berggruen Gallery, San Francisco, California
1999     Frank Lloyd Gallery, Santa Monica, California
1996     Frank Lloyd Gallery, Santa Monica, California
1994     Garth Clark Gallery, Los Angeles, California
            John Berggruen Gallery, San Francisco, California
1993     Garth Clark Gallery, New York
            Lemberg Gallery, Birmingham, Michigan
1992     John Berggruen Gallery, San Francisco, California
1991     Gallery Koyanagi, Tokyo, Japan (with the Canadian Embassy, as part of Great
                    Canada ’91)
            Garth Clark Gallery, New York
1990     Garth Clark Gallery, Los Angeles, California
1989     John Berggruen Gallery, San Francisco, California
            Barbara Silverberg Gallery, Montréal, Canada
            Getty Center for the History of Art and the Humanities, Santa Monica, California
1988     Garth Clark Gallery, Los Angeles, California
            Garth Clark Gallery, New York
            Gallery Koyanagi, Tokyo, Japan
1987     Garth Clark Gallery, New York
            Dorothy Weiss Gallery, San Francisco, California
1986     Garth Clark Gallery, Los Angeles, California
            Triton Museum of Art, Santa Clara, California
            Barbara Silverberg Gallery, Montréal, Canada
1985     Dorothy Weiss Gallery, San Francisco, California
1983     Noir et Blanc, Guilde Canadienne des Métiers d’Art, Montréal, Canada