© Estate of Peter Voulkos
Peter Voulkos and Norm Schulman, "Untitled". Circa 1960. Woodfired stoneware.
These artworks by Jo Sandman, Peter Voulkos, Jim Leedy, and Don Reitz exemplify the desire of American artists in the middle of the twentieth century to express emotions through their gestures in the creation of their art. The style came to be known as Abstract Expressionism, and it embodied the ideal that art historical rules no longer mattered—canvases could be painted on the ground, images no longer needed to represent a recognizable figure, and it was the artist’s physical gesture that received the greatest emphasis. Many ceramicists of time started to see themselves as potter-artists and moved away from creating functional objects. Even those that continued making utilitarian pottery experimented more with glazes and forms. Those that moved away from functional forms altogether became ceramic sculptors in the Abstract Expressionist Movement.
Exhibition Title: Intersections in American Art
Label Date: 11/2019
Type: Extended Chat
Voulkos established his first ceramic studio in Montana in 1952, and in the summer session of 1953 he taught at Black Mountain College. There he was introduced to Abstract Expressionist painters, like Franz Kline, who influenced his work. He sought to create ceramic works of art like their painted and sculptural counterparts rather than functional pottery. In the early 1970s Voulkos experimented with the platter form. His platters were thrown on a wheel and then slashed with a knife, rough holes pushed up and through them, and small pieces of white porcelain inserted into them. His expression of movement and interaction with the work is visceral. The results ask the viewer to confront the platter’s surface texture and the space visible behind it. This platter came from the collection of ceramic artist Norm Schulman; he fired it for Voulkos after he came to demonstrate for his class at the Rhode Island School of Design.
Exhibition Title: Asheville Art Museum: An Introduction to the Collection
Label Date: 2021
Type: Catalogue Entry
Written by: Whitney Richardson
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