Thursday, November 3, 2011

To Find a Matching Teapot

Doubled Handled Bowl (1987) by Beatrice Wood

For much of the history of western art, the "lowly" potter's craft has been overlooked, dismissed as mere decoration, as if ceramics were little more than playing with mud, expressing no "higher" aesthetic values.

American pottery of the mid-20th century challenged that ignorant and elitist frame of mind. And no place was more trendsetting and innovative than Southern California. One of the most distinctive ceramic artists was Beatrice Wood, who amazingly had learned the craft in her late 40s!!! According to the story, she was looking for a teapot to match a pair of lusterware plates, but couldn't find one. So, she decided to learn how to craft one for herself, beginning six decades of amazing luster glaze ceramic masterpieces.

Currently, the Santa Monica Museum of Art is exhibiting "Beatrice Wood: Career Woman - Drawings, Paintings, Vessels, and Objects" as part of the Pacific Standard Time event. It is a comprehensive display covering a wide selection of styles and themes that Wood had developed over the decades. Moreover, there are some really obscure works on display, such as her drawings or journals, which rarely receive viewings, providing rich insights into her creative process.

Luster Chalice with Ten Handles (1982) by Beatrice Wood

But the main draw for me were the alluring lusterware vessels. They have a dazzling faerie glamour that catches the eye, bringing to mind tales of magic and high heroics.

Her ceramic forms don't have the "experimental conceptualism" design ideals, which are associated with "California School" masters such as Peter Voulkos or Paul Soldner, but they do have an authenticity and simplicity that allows the glaze work to stand out.

Miniature Vessels (1980) by Beatrice Wood

This is a gorgeous show. I'm definitely planning on giving it multiple viewings.

Here's a vid showcasing this amazing artist.


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