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Ralph Bacerra

Biography to Display: 

1938Born, Garden Grove, California

2008Died, Eagle Rock, California

EDUCATION

1961BFA Chouinard Art Institute, Los Angeles, California

PRIMARY WORK EXPERIENCE

1961-1964Faculty, Ceramics Department, Chouinard Art Institute, Los Angeles, California

1963-1972Chairman, Ceramics Department, Chouinard Art Institute

1983-1997Faculty and Chairman Ceramics Department, Otis Art Institute, Los Angeles, California

 

Ralph Bacerra is known as one of the leading decorative ceramists of the 20th century, his work shows the influences of Asian art, especially Imari porcelain, and the influence of 20th and 21stcentury abstract artists like M.C. Escher. Bacerra was one of the first American studio potters to create highly decorative surfaces using enamels and lusters, incising into the clay body and over glaze china paint.

The vivid colors and contrasts of his characteristic glazes are then built up using up to ten separate firings, each firing in succession at a lower temperature than the previous. The rich jewel colors in complex patterns that appear on his works are the result of multiple controlled firings. Bacerra often started with an unglazed geometric vessel created using various thrown, hand-built and molded components.

Bacerra was Chairperson of the Ceramics Department at Chouinard Institute from 1963 until the department was dissolved in 1971. He returned to teaching in 1983 at the Otis Art Institute, where he became Chairperson of the Ceramics Department, a position he held until 1997.

An interview with Ralph Bacerra conducted April 12 and 19, 2004 by Frank Lloyd, for the Archives of American Art’s Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America is available at:
http://www.aaa.si.edu/collections/interviews/oral-history-interview-ralph-bacerra-12942.

Public Collections

Public Collections to Display: 

American Museum of Ceramic Art, Pomona, California

Arizona State University Art Museum, Tempe, Arizona

Bates Gallery, Edinboro University, Edinboro, Pennsylvania

Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum, New York, New York

Daum Museum of Contemporary Art, Sedelia, Missouri

Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art, Utah State University, Logan, Utah

Everson Museum of Art, Syracuse, New York

John Michael Kohler Arts Center, Sheboygan, Wisconsin

Krannert Art Museum, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Champaign, Illinois

Long Beach Museum of Art, Long Beach, California

Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), Los Angeles, California

M.H. de Young Memorial Museum, San Francisco, California

Mint Museum of Craft+Design, Charlotte, North Carolina

Museum of Arts and Design, New York, New York

Museum of Contemporary Ceramic Art, Shigaraki Ceramic Cultural Park, Shigaraki, Japan

National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto, Japan

Newark Museum of Art, Newark, New Jersey

Northern Illinois Art Museum, DeKalb, Illinois

Oakland Museum of California, Oakland, California

Racine Art Museum, Racine, Wisconsin

Sacramento State College, Sacramento, California

Smithsonian American Art Museum, Renwick Gallery, Washington, D.C.

Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York

Victoria and Albert Museum, London, England

White House Collection, the Clinton Presidential Library, Little Rock, Arkansas

Wichita Art Museum, Wichita, Kansas

Bibliography

Bibliography to Display: 

Bacerra, Ralph. Ralph Bacerra: A Survey. New York, NY: Garth Clark Gallery, 1999.

Clark, Garth, and Tony Cunha. The Artful Teapot. New York, NY: Watson-Guptill, 2001.

Lauria, Jo. "A Profile of Artist Ralph Bacerra.” Ceramics: Art and Perception 15 (1994).

Lynn, Martha Drexler. Clay Today: Contemporary Ceramists and Their World. Los Angeles, CA: Los Angeles County Museum of Art and Chronicle Books, 1990.

Ostermann, Matthias. The Ceramic Surface. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2002.

Peterson, Susan. Contemporary Ceramics. New York, NY: Watson-Guptill, 2000.

 

CV or Resume: Click Here to Download
Source: Elaine Levin Archive, University of Southern California

CV or Resume: Click Here to Download
Source: Frank Lloyd Gallery, Elaine Levin Archive, University of Southern California

CV or Resume: Click Here to Download
Source: Garth Clark Gallery, Elaine Levin Archive, University of Southern California

 

Typical Marks

Bacerra  was  diligent  in  signing  his  ceramic  pieces  on  the  reverse  with  his  signature,  but  often  did  not  include  the  date... frequently works  created  between  1961  and  1963,  when  Bacerra  was  a  student  at  Chouinard  Art  Institute,  works were  signed  RALPH  in  script.  All known works  after  1963,  when  Bacerra  became  faculty  at  Chouinard,  were  signed  BACERRA  in  script.  (Jo Lauria 2016)

1960-1975
1975
1979
1980
ca. 1980
ca. 1981
1991
1975-1993
1994
1999
Blue and White Lobed Plate
Date: 1975
Form: Plate
Materials: Porcelain
Method: Thrown
Surface Technique: Glaze
Courtesy the Estate of Ralph Bacerra
Courtesy the Estate of Ralph Bacerra
Charger
Date: ca. 1975
Form: Plate
Method: Press Mold
Surface Technique: Brushwork, Glaze
Brooklyn Museum, Modernism Benefit Fund, 1990
Photo: © 2004–2014 the Brooklyn Museum
Brooklyn Museum, Modernism Benefit Fund, 1990
Photo: © 2004–2014 the Brooklyn Museum
Photo: © 2004–2014 the Brooklyn Museum
Plate
Date: 1977
Form: Plate
Materials: Porcelain
Method: Thrown
Surface Technique: Glaze
Courtesy the Estate of Ralph Bacerra
Courtesy the Estate of Ralph Bacerra
Large Iris Bowl
Date: ca. 1980
Form: Bowl
Materials: Porcelain
Method: Thrown
Surface Technique: Glaze, Luster, Overglaze, Underglaze
E. John Bullard Collection
E. John Bullard Collection
Covered Vessel
Date: ca. 1981
Form: Casserole
Materials: Stoneware
Method: Thrown
Surface Technique: Glaze
Photo: liveauctioneers.com
Photo: liveauctioneers.com
Photo: liveauctioneers.com
Portrait Vessel
Date: 1991
Materials: Earthenware
Method: Slab Built, Hand Built
Surface Technique: China Paint, Luster
Everson Museum of Art Collection, Museum Purchase, 1992
Photo: John Polak
Everson Museum of Art Collection, Museum Purchase, 1992
Photo: John Polak
Photo: John Polak
Teapot
Date: 1992
Form: Teapot
Materials: Earthenware
Method: Cast
Surface Technique: Glaze
The White House Collection, The Clinton Library, Little Rock, Arkansas
Photo: John Bigelow Taylor
The White House Collection, The Clinton Library, Little Rock, Arkansas
Tang
Date: 1994
Form: Sculpture
Method: Hand Built
Surface Technique: Glaze
Courtesy Treadway Toomey Auctions, Candice Groot Collection, lot 5, April 16, 2016
Courtesy Treadway Toomey Auctions, Candice Groot Collection, lot 5, April 16, 2016
Photo: TMP
Photo: TMP
Large Untitled Vessel
Date: 1999
Form: Covered Jar
Materials: Porcelain
Method: Thrown
Surface Technique: Carved, Glaze, Incised
Margaret Pennington Collection
Photo: John Polak
Margaret Pennington Collection
Photo: John Polak
Photo: John Polak
Photo: John Polak

Citation: "The Marks Project." Last modified September 3, 2017. http://www.themarksproject.org:443/marks/bacerra