PST: Ceramic arts through the years
Peter Voulkos has been called a hero, a catalyst, an inspiration. Billy Al Bengston referred to him as a "germinator" for the way he planted the seeds of abstraction in postwar L.A. art. Through the force of his raw, muscular ceramic sculpture and intense personal magnetism, he made those seeds flourish.
A new Pacific Standard Time exhibition at Scripps College takes a look at the pioneering work of Voulkos and his peers, John Mason and Ken Price. "Clay's Tectonic Shift" traces a period in the late 1950s and 1960s, when ceramics broke free of its traditional ties to function and craft and entered the mainstream art world.
But yesterday's revolutionaries soon turn into today's historical figures, and Voulkos et al. are no different. Contemporary artists using clay recognize the importance of what that older generation made happen, but they're pursuing recognition for the medium still, trying to enact yet another shift in the perception of clay's viability as a sculptural material.
Photo: Peter Voulkos Untitled, 1956. Credit: Scripps College