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Viola Frey, American, 1933-2004. The Decline and Fall of Western Civilizations, 1992. Ceramic and glazes. 95 x 202 x 66 inches. Artists’ Legacy Foundation, Oakland, CA. 2019 © Artists’ Legacy Foundation / Licensed by ARS, New York.

Monumental: The Art of Viola Frey

March 14, 2020 - June 14, 2020

Harris - Burger Gallery

Over the course of her 50-year career, Viola Frey (1933–2004) produced an impressive body of artwork, including sculpture, paintings, and drawings, but she is best known for her brilliantly colored, monumental ceramic figures. Frey belonged to a generation of California artists who pushed the boundaries of clay as a craft to produce sculptural artworks, which elevated ceramics as a medium for fine art as we know it today. 

Frey’s multi-faceted approach and training as a painter and sculptor taught her to experiment using contemporary materials, art historical and pop culture references, and personal iconography, which she gathered from her surroundings. These deep sources of imagery allowed Frey to reflect on culture, power, gender dynamics, and in one particular series, the broad topic of Western Civilization.

Monumental: The Art of Viola Frey features artwork from her Western Civilization series, which Frey explored within the last 15 years of her life. The exhibition presents of a variety of media highlighting her interest not only in clay, but also painting and drawing. Widely considered Frey’s masterpiece, The Decline and Fall of Western Civilization, which measures nearly 17 feet long and 9 feet high, will be on view for the first time outside of the Western United States.

www.artistslegacyfoundation.org

From the Exhibition

  • Viola Frey, American, 1933–2004. Western Civilizations Series, 2000. Ceramic and glazes. 90 x 70 inches. Artists’ Legacy Foundation, Oakland, CA. 2019 © Artists’ Legacy Foundation / Licensed by ARS, New York

  • Viola Frey, American, 1933–2004. Untitled, Fighting Men Series, 2001. Glass and china paint. 14 x 9 x 9 inches. Artists’ Legacy Foundation, Oakland, CA. 2019 © Artists’ Legacy Foundation / Licensed by ARS, New York. Photographed by M. Lee Fatherree

  • Viola Frey, American, 1933–2004. Western Civilization Diptych #4, 1997. Pastel on paper, 41 1/2 x 59 1/4 inches. Artists’ Legacy Foundation, Oakland, CA. 2019 © Artists’ Legacy Foundation / Licensed by ARS, New York