John Woodward, American, b. 1950. Garage, 1995–1996. Painted ceramic. 28 x 19 x 20 inches. Gift of Mary Mallery Davis, by exchange, 2016.14

Breaking with Tradition: Contemporary Ceramics

April 21, 2018 - January 27, 2019

Harris - Burger Gallery

In the beginning of the 20th century, the production of ceramics was dominated by large factories making utilitarian objects like bowls, vases, and plates. While there were some notable exceptions, most experimentation and innovation in clay did not happen until after World War II. Ceramicists such as Peter Voulkos were influenced by Abstract Expressionism, and others, such as Viola Frey and Robert Arneson, made a deliberate choice to work in a style neither traditional nor vessel-oriented, yet were not purely abstract. 

While some used this new freedom from function to explore the possibilities of form, shape, and color, others ventured into figuration, narrative subject matter, and manipulation of historical and traditional forms. The objects in this exhibition demonstrate how ceramicists using a diversity of approaches—from playful to political—broke with tradition.

From the Exhibition

  • Graham Marks, American, b. 1951. Untitled, 1979. Glazed and unglazed earthenware. 29 x 27 x 29 inches. Gift of Dr. Robert and Deanna Harris Burger, 2015.113

  • Mariko Paterson, Canadian, born 1971. Willow Bago, 2014. Porcelain. 20 1/4 x 15 3/8 x 7 1/4 inches. Gift of Dr. Robert and Deanna Harris Burger, 2015.116