Clay’s Tectonic Shift Chosen as One of the Top 10 Exhibitions of 2012

Los Angeles Times art critic Christopher Knight has named Clay’s Tectonic Shift as one of the ten best art museum exhibits of 2012. In doing so, Knight places the Williamson Gallery’s exhibition alongside exhibits created by such notable institutions as the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Getty Museum. To see the entire list, please visit LA Times’ Culture Monster.

Knight commented: “Together, Common Ground: Ceramics in Southern California, 1945-1975 at the American Museum of Ceramic Art in Pomona and Clay’s Tectonic Shift: John Mason, Ken Price and Peter Voulkos, 1956-1968 at Scripps College’s Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery in nearby Claremont made for the most thorough telling of the tale of a distinctive revolution in postwar art. One laid out the rich panoply of modern ceramic conventions, the other cheerfully smashed them.”

In Clay’s Tectonic Shift: John Mason, Ken Price and Peter Voulkos, 1956 – 1968, the Williamson focused on three of the most innovative and dynamic artists of the era, whose work forever changed the way ceramics would be regarded. This shift in perspective came about during the era the Getty initiative highlighted in “Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A. 1945–1980,” a celebration of the vivid post-World War II art scene in Los Angeles.

Los Angeles was the site of a “revolution in clay” in which a small group of artists challenged studio pottery’s traditional focus on utilitarian ware to create sculptural forms. The exhibition and catalog, Clay’s Tectonic Shift, focus on three artists—Mason, Price and Voulkos—who, in the late 1950s and 1960s, emerged as sculptors, creating new works in clay that claimed equal footing with art in other media. Although each of these sculptors has been featured in solo shows or larger group exhibitions, this project is the first to feature their work together through key pieces that mark their emerging sculptural styles from 1956 to 1968. While the exhibition closed in April 2012, the catalog is still available for purchase.

Image: Ken Price, L Red, 1963, Stoneware with lacquer and acrylic, 13.5 x 12 x 10, Collection of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund purchase. ©Kenneth Price, 82.155