Posts Tagged ‘Richard DeVore’
The elegant, restrained vessels of Richard DeVore have frequently been compared to human forms. It is easy to see why – their warm, matte surfaces evoke human skin; clefts, dimples, slits, and bulges in the works reference anatomical forms; and the suggestion of bilateral symmetry recalls the basic human figure. Even his commitment to a few selected vessel shapes, and a restricted color palette, recalls the diversity of life, bound as it is to certain limitations. Janet Koplos equated his body of work to a crowd of people, who are “recognizable as a species but infinite in their variety.”
Like people, DeVore’s works have rich interior lives, not immediately visible to the casual viewer. In many of his pots, the artist constructed a series of false bottoms that can only be discovered by peering over their rims. This requires the viewer to get close to and spend time with each piece in order to properly assess them. Invisible from the exterior, the pots have hidden layers that radically change the perception of each piece. A tall vessel, with steeply sloping walls is revealed to have a shallow interior, composed of a series of these false bottoms, accented with evocative cut-outs that lead to increasingly obscure levels. The works are mysterious, and do not easily give themselves away. Instead, as Koplos notes, “they stand, they feel, they keep secrets.”
-By Kelly E. Boyd
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.
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.
At the gallery, we hold an average of ten exhibitions a year, presenting the work of West Coast and international artists. These shows are held in the three main rooms of the gallery, and are a mix of solo and group exhibitions that may explore certain themes, materials, or ideas.
However, a part of the gallery that is sometimes overlooked by visitors is the presentation room. Here, we feature a variety of artworks that are not part of the major exhibits. These pieces are diverse in style, size, and material, and give a fuller picture of the artists represented here. They are also frequently rotated to showcase a greater number of artists and keep visitors coming back to see what’s new.
Right now, we have on display drawings and a sculpture by Larry Bell as well as ceramics and sculptures by Adrian Saxe, Robert Graham, Sugimoto Sadamitsu, Svend Bayer, Richard DeVore, Satoru Hoshino, Georges Jeanclos and Goro Suzuki.
The presentation room also has a small viewing area, where visitors are invited to watch one of the documentaries we have, including The Cool School and Revolutions of the Wheel: The Emergence of American Clay Art. We have also begun producing video interviews with some of our artists, and these will be available for viewing.
I like to use this space to continue to raise awareness for the artists, even when they are not the subject of an exhibition at the gallery. It’s fun to improvise here, switching out works and watching how they affect visitors and the other pieces of art they are displayed with. I sometimes find relationships between works that might not have occurred to me had I not combined such a disparate collection of pieces.