For over thirty years, Richard DeVore (1933-2006) created, fired, and edited his work, reducing his final artistic output to a limited number of vessels that best expressed his emotional states and artistic intentions. Through a limited vocabulary of vessel and bowl forms, in combination with skin and earth tones, DeVore shaped a body of work that Janet Koplos, senior writer at Art in America, described as ”recognizable as a species but amazing in their variety.”
The heart of Richard DeVore’s mature career centered on his continual investigation into the expressive capabilities of the vessel. While his reliance on a few basic forms might suggest a certain conservatism, DeVore pushed those shapes to their very limits, incorporating slits, dimples and rim irregularities as well as double floors and concealed interior shelves and membranes. His works expand viewers’ conception of what a vessel is, and how it functions in the world.
The shapes of his works and their surface treatments were meticulously planned, and then executed. If a piece did not meet the artist’s high standards of beauty and expression, it was destroyed. In an interview with Katherine Wunderlich of the Cranbrook Magazine in 1972, Devore explained that each piece is either “a living idea and the essence of the feeling or it is not. There are no excuses.”
Whether DeVore’s work brings to mind worn, weathered skin or the roughened surface of a crater or hillside, it is the sensation or feeling evoked that is so significant. The objects DeVore references are starting points, the essence of which he captures through reductive and carefully chosen physical qualities. Barry Schwabsky, writing for American Craft, beautifully described the experience of contemplating the artist’s work, noting that:
“The abyss into which Richard DeVore draws my gaze does not trap me, nor is it meant to; it elicits a critical consciousness of the seduction to which I assent, and in that consciousness is the release which sends me back to the safe distance from which I enjoy these beautifully restrained forms: no longer enigmatic and troubling but once again, for the moment, severe, balanced, harmonious.”
Our upcoming show at the gallery, Frank’s International House of Ceramics, Part Three, will include several examples of Richard DeVore’s evocative work. I hope you’ll have the chance to come and see it in person when it opens on February 9th, 2013.