June 2 – September 18, 2005
Humble in origin, clay is one of the oldest and most enduring of all artistic mediums. Starting in the late 19th century, American and European artists—inspired by non-Western traditions and framed by the context of social reform—reimagined the potential of this simple material. Over the next 100 years studio potters, industrial designers, and fine-arts sculptors mirrored and advanced vanguard artistic theories and design philosophies. Centers and Edges: Modern Ceramic Design and Sculpture, 1880-1980, organized mainly from the Smart Museum's collection, focused on five key moments of influence, invention, and impact that are marked by shifting geographical centers of creative energy: late 19th-century British and American Arts-and-Crafts pottery; functionalist designs from 1920s and 30s Germany and Austria; the modernist figuration of Aristide Maillol, Henry Moore, and other European sculptors; a widespread embrace of studio and folk pottery traditions in America, Europe, and Japan after World War II; and an expressive reworking of vessel and sculptural forms from 1950s California to 1970s London featuring pieces by such leaders in the field as the West Coast master Peter Voulkos and Chicago-based Ruth Duckworth.
Curator: Richard A. Born, Smart Museum Senior Curator.
Presented in the Richard and Mary L. Gray Special Exhibition Gallery.