From May 7-June 4, the Frank Lloyd Gallery will present an exhibition of selected works by Ken Price, including cup forms and bowls with painted landscapes. Created in the 1980s and early 90s, these intimately scaled works exhibit Price's skill as a colorist and draftsman. Several cups and bowls display scenes ranging from beaches dotted with palm trees and cabañas to apartment interiors and suburban skylines. Two cups demonstrate Price's organic, soft-edged forms and peculiarly inventive surfaces.
The works on view originated in the decade after Happy's Curios, 1978, Price's seminal project about Mexican commercial folk art. The painted works continue Price's fascination with the colorful imagery and simple forms of traditional folk potters. These works also grow out of the artist's ongoing interest in manipulating functional forms. Price has described his continued engagement with the cup form:
"Since the mid '50s I've made cups of various kinds- some functional, some where the function is symbolic, and others were the cup represents a set of formal restrictions that make up a structure to work within. At times I've used to cup as a vehicle for making colored forms. But even if the form is transformed, it carries its history with it. Everybody knows what a cup is. To use it you put it to your mouth and drink from it, so symbolically it represents sensual life. The cup is its own subject matter so it doesn't have to be about anything else, and at the same time it's a great idiom to carry all kinds of references and cultural information if you want it to."
As Peter Schjeldahl noted in an article for the New Yorker, Price's development as an artist has always been on his own terms:
"Price emerged in the 1960s as the brilliantly contrary student of Peter Voulkos…Price eschewed Voulkos's virile expansiveness to work small, making exquisite egg shapes that sprout erotic, worrisome tendrils. He proceeded develop abstract variations on cup, teapot, and vase forms with faceted asymmetrical compositions, glazed with primary colors, that are like pocket distillations—which turn monumental in memory—of modern style from cubism through De Stijl to minimalism."
Ken Price is one of the most important sculptors to have emerged in Los Angeles in the past 50 years. Born in Los Angeles in 1935, Price received a B.F.A. from University of Southern California in 1956 and studied briefly with Peter Voulkos at the Los Angeles County Art Institute (now Otis College of Art and Design) before receiving an M.F.A. from New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred in 1959. Returning to Los Angeles, Price joined the stable of artists at the legendary Ferus Gallery, quickly establishing himself with several successful solo exhibitions. Since then he has exhibited widely and has work in many public collections, including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.