The Frank Lloyd Gallery presents an on-line exhibit of work by three major artists. These artists approached the medium of ceramics in distinct and personal ways, but are tied together by their early associations. All three came out of the 1950s West Coast ceramic movement.
Since his earliest work in clay, Ken Price (1935-2012) pushed the boundaries of the medium with refined finishes and rich associations, from the primordial and organic to Mexican folk pottery. Price became known as an artist's artist, forming and meticulously finishing innovative works that helped redefine what it meant to be an artist working with the medium of fired clay. The New York Times, in an obituary written by Roberta Smith, stated that Price was "…one of the outstanding artists of postwar America."
The current Frank Lloyd Gallery show includes four cups, which demonstrate the artist's focus on small scale. A cup is a familiar hand-held object, which connects the tactile with stimulants or sustenance. The intimacy of hand-made folk pottery was also a source for Price, and the current exhibit shows examples of platters and cups from the period of "Happy's Curios", a mid-1970s series based on Mexican tourist wares.
The value of color in Price's work cannot be underestimated. "For me color carries emotion so I love working with it. It's been a big part of whatever I've been making for over 50 years," stated Price in a recent interview. [i] "When my work is successful, there's an organic fusion between the surface and the color." [ii]
John Mason (1927-2019) is represented in the on-line show by six early works, demonstrating the process of forming and building with slabs of clay. In these early works, he shows the physical manipulation of the medium, which recorded his interaction. Mason's work over the past six decades presents one of the most compelling arguments for abstract sculpture. His line of thought and consistency of execution mark the work as an elegant proof, similar to a mathematical inquiry. In an article published by Art News, Suzanne Muchnic wrote:
"A major figure in ceramic sculpture, Mason emerged in the mid-1950s as one of the leaders of a revolution that transformed clay from a craft to a fine art medium… In his latest work, Mason has proved himself a master builder and sculptor who knows how to get the most out of a relatively simple three dimensional form."
The Peter Voulkos (1924-2002) works on view in this exhibition span the period of time from 1954 to 2000. Included are early examples of pottery, with pieces that are slashed and gouged, as well as forms that are often associated with the artist, such as the "plate" form. Aggressively manipulated and incised, the ceramic surfaces of his works serve as a "meeting ground for painting and sculpture," as noted in the New York Times. He dealt with the medium in a manner described by his colleague Ken Price as "direct frontal assault." One etching, on view alongside his ceramic artworks, demonstrates the same incised line, and powerful imagery.
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 fine arts and craft. His work as an innovator, teacher, and colleague inspired generations of ceramists to push boundaries and find liberation in their medium.
The Frank Lloyd Gallery show is online only, but inquiries are welcome by phone or email. Gallery hours are Monday through Friday, from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. For more information, please contact the gallery: phone (323-535-9377) or by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org, or email@example.com.
[i] Ken Price, Interview, Scripps College Project sponsored by Getty Research Institute, 2010.
[ii] Ken Price in conversation with Vija Celmins, Ken Price, Steidl/mm, New York, pg. 7