Frank Lloyd’s blog

Art, architecture and the people that I know.

Posts Tagged ‘Ralph Bacerra

Nature, Sculpture, Abstraction, and Clay

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Aloft_float copyLast week I received some gratifying news in the form of a very positive review of the Museum of Fine Art, Boston’s current exhibition, Nature, Sculpture, Abstraction, and Clay: One Hundred Years of American Ceramics. Sebastian Smee, writing for the Boston Globe, reviewed the show, which presents gifts from the Daphne Farago Collection and the Philip Aarons and Shelley Fox Aarons Collection, in addition to other new acquisitions.

In a show of more than 70 pieces, several artists represented by the Frank Lloyd Gallery were singled out for praise. For example, while describing Adrian Saxe’s 1989 work Float/Aloft, Smee writes that, “Purely formal and aesthetic concerns were overtaken by a new sense of self-aware play, extending into the realms of language, pop culture, and politics.” Ken Price and Ralph Bacerra are also identified as artists of particular stature, represented by works engaged in creative dialogue with the historical pieces on display.

The review closes with the MFA Boston’s newly acquired work by Cheryl Ann Thomas, December. Calling it “A highlight — and a great note to end on,” Smee goes on to say that the piece “is truly something to behold.”

Richard Shaw’s Online Videos

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On July 12th, the gallery will open a new exhibition of works by Ralph Bacerra, Richard DeVore, and Richard Shaw. In anticipation of this, it feels like a good time to repost Richard Shaw’s online videos. Last February, Shaw participated in an artists’ conversation with Adrian Saxe. One of our most popular events, the two artists spoke at length about their respective practices, including their shared interest in juxtaposition and references to contemporary culture. I’m glad that we filmed their talk, and I’ve included the edited video below:

In 2005, Shaw was filmed in his studio by KQED for the arts education program Spark. This video really demonstrates the complexity of his artwork, revealing the enormous library of molds, glazes, decals, and transfers that he uses to achieve a stunning level of realism. The profile also captures Shaw in his element as Professor of Art at the University of California, Berkeley, where he taught until his retirement in 2012.



Ralph Bacerra Retrospective

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BacerraOtis College of Art and Design is planning a retrospective exhibition on the work of Ralph Bacerra. Titled Exquisite Beauty: The Ceramics of Ralph Bacerra, it will be presented in the Ben Maltz Gallery, and is scheduled to open in the fall of 2015. This recognition of Bacerra’s work is well-deserved, as Bacerra was a widely acknowledged master of elaborately decorative techniques. The exhibition will be accompanied by a fully-illustrated catalogue.

Influenced by his travels to Japan, China, and Taiwan, Bacerra’s artwork achieved a sophisticated synthesis of surface and form. Speaking about his work, Bacerra stated, “I am committed more to the idea of pure beauty. When it is finished, the piece should be like an ornament, exquisitely beautiful.”

Written by Frank Lloyd

February 21, 2014 at 1:51 am

Bacerra Retrospective News

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Our show of Ralph Bacerra’s early work at the gallery comes with some very important news. In a conversation with Peter Held, curator of Ceramics at the Arizona State University Art Museum Ceramics Research Center, we decided to make an announcement.  The ASU Ceramics Research Center has committed to the organization of a Ralph Bacerra retrospective exhibition and the publication of a monograph.  It’s a very exciting development for the field, and we are pleased to break the news.  In a statement, Held wrote “The exhibition will survey Bacerra’s work from the 1960s to the present, offering a full view of his stylistic development… It is our hope that the show will travel to 4-5 venues to bring a higher awareness of Bacerra’s work to a national audience.”

Ralph’s supporters, collectors, and students will welcome a major traveling exhibit for Bacerra. There were many calls for this exhibit from institutions and curators.  However, this is the strongest proposal, from an internationally respected University Museum that has a reputation for scholarship and publications. Peter Held continued in his statement: “The exhibition will highlight his creative vision that spans over 40 years of artistic excellence.  The exhibition is proposed to include 65 ceramic objects drawn from the museum’s permanent collection of which we hold approximately 25 objects of the artist, the artist’s estate and private and public collections nationwide.  The exhibition will open at the ASU Art Museum in 2012.”

Many of the small, early works currently on exhibit at the gallery show the artist’s interest in Asian ceramics. He was particularly fond of Imari ware and Kutani ceramics. Rare among American ceramists, his works were collected by museums in Asia, including the Shigaraki Museum of Contemporary Ceramic Art in Japan, and the National Museum of Modern Art in Kyoto.

Written by Frank Lloyd

January 9, 2010 at 7:42 pm

A Tribute to Ralph Bacerra

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I’ve been remembering Ralph Bacerra as we prepare to present a show of early work tomorrow. I see some of his personal interests as we arrange the works. Ralph was an avid gardener who cultivated exotic orchids, a traveler, a man who loved his dogs, and he was a gourmet cook. Yet what is fascinating, as I look back, was his outlook on life.  He had a singular vision—to be a ceramist.  He told me about when he saw a stoneware vessel in high school, and learned about ceramics from Vivika Heino at Chouinard, and how he had an immediate affinity with ceramics. He was incredibly focused and directed from that time on.  He became a leader in the movement of American studio ceramics, not just because of his generous talents, but also because of his vision and hard work in the studio.

In his long career, Bacerra addressed everything from the small cup form to a huge 3,000-piece tile mural.  In an interview for the Archives of American Art, I asked Ralph to describe the difficulties or opportunities presented by his largest public work, a commission.

He said, “Well, there weren’t difficulties. I mean, if you know what you’re doing and you have your vision.  You have your idea, and it comes out. But all those things are sort of intuitive. You do research, you read books, you see the shows, and they’re sort of in the back of your head, and as you begin to work, it all begins to come out. I think that most of the creativity comes from the actual doing–using your hands, using the clay, using the materials. And you can’t sit there and think about it. My philosophy is you get in the studio and you get out the materials.”

You may think that I am an art dealer, but actually…I became a student of Ralph’s. His questioning voice and his challenges were always there.  When I stopped by his studio and brought his work to the gallery, he would tell me how it was made. When we traveled to San Francisco, he walked me through the collection of the DeYoung museum, and pointed out the prime examples of Asian Art. If my gallery showed new work, he came to test the ring of the pot, and pronounced it properly fired—or, not. I began to grasp the concepts of glaze “fit” and the order of firing.

It wasn’t easy, but I guess I passed the tests. Because when Ralph took you on as a student, there was tremendous loyalty. He didn’t let go. He was a true supporter of the gallery, and never missed an opening…even the one three days before he died.  I wish he could be here tomorrow.

Photo by Sid Felsen

Written by Frank Lloyd

January 9, 2010 at 1:56 am

Cabinets of Wonder

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If there’s one thing I’m sure of, it’s that we learn about art through our friends. Collectors and exhibitions inspire us; they give us a worldview based on exploration. Scholars tell us that the origins of museums came from the cabinets of curiosities in Sixteenth and Seventeenth Century Europe. The obsessions and discoveries of collectors are expanded versions of that, usually displayed in a domestic setting, as something to be shown and discussed with friends.

In my last post, I mentioned an organization called the Friends of Contemporary Ceramics. It’s a non-profit support group for the ceramic arts, and has helped tremendously with exhibition funding, publications and educational symposia during the FCC’s fourteen year history. As with many art support groups, there are also trips to attend important exhibits, and seek out fascinating collections.

Great shows have been supported by the FCC, which was founded by Linda Leonard Schlenger in 1995 (that’s Linda on the right in the photo, along with Peter and Ann Voulkos in the center, and me). The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s 1999 show Clay into Art was just one of the highlights. The FCC gives an annual award to a contributor to the field, and helps to sponsor exhibitions in the field of ceramics.

In the interest of full disclosure, I’ll let you know that I am on the board of directors of the FCC. I organized two trips to Los Angeles, and helped the group to become better acquainted with artist’s studios, museums and private collections. We gathered many of the most important artists for a lunch at the gallery. This photo shows, from left to right, the late Ralph Bacerra, Harrison McIntosh, Toshiko Takaezu, John Mason, Ruth Duckworth, and the late Roseline Delisle.ralph-bacerra_harrison-mcintosh_toshiko-takaezu_john-mason_ruth-duckworth_roseline-delisle

Written by Frank Lloyd

January 3, 2009 at 11:30 pm

Jazz Bowl

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Ralph Bacerra was a superb ceramist, yet always a student of art history. It’s no wonder that, in the last two years of life, he produced a couple of the most stunning large vessels I’ve ever seen. In many ways, Bacerra integrated his physical and technical abilities—this is a thrown bowl, perfectly glazed with turquoise over black. The piece also recalls the modernity of Victor Schreckengost’s Jazz Bowl from 1931. This reminds me that, for any ceramics collector, a good book to read is 20th Century Ceramics, by Edmund de Waal.

Bacerra’s turquoise bowls are spectacular in scale and color. One is in our current show. Another, from 2006, has just been acquired by the Philadelphia Museum of Art. It is a gift from one of our collectors, Frederick McBrien III. An exhibit including many works from Fred’s collection of Japanese ceramics has just opened at the Philadelphia Museum.

Written by Frank Lloyd

December 20, 2008 at 1:37 am