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Claude Conover

Biography to Display: 

1907Born Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

1994Died

EDUCATION

Cleveland Institute of Art, Cleveland, Ohio

PRIMARY WORK EXPERIENCE

Commercial Designer

1960s—Studio Artist

 

Claude Conover is known for his exploration of a single form, the bottle/vase. The pieces are large scale up to 19 inches tall and characterized by short cylindrical neck and mouth approximately centered on the vessel’s shoulder. Each piece also has a plastic liner. The pieces are coil and slab- built using stoneware and are typically variations on classical forms. The monochromatic surfaces are usually left unglazed and are finished with saw blade scratched or stamped motifs or covered with linear and geometric designs created using a sgraffito technique.  Often the sgraffito is so pronounced that it creates an overall textured surface. Conover also made functional wares, bowls, lamps, and animal sculptures.

Conover’s early study of sculpture and painting led to work as a commercial designer for 30 years until in the 1960s at age 55 he began to work with clay. This early design study is evident in Conover’s intricately designed surface treatment.

After retiring from commercial design, Conover devoted himself to his studio practice. He described his seven-day process to Fred Griffith for the 1983 television documentary on Claude Conover, The Bottle Maker, the artist explained his working methods in detail.  “…On Mondays he rolled slabs and made vessels and their necks, letting them dry overnight. On Tuesdays he stepped back and considered what was needed to finish the forms and started putting his pots together, adding the necks and other attached pieces. On Wednesdays he finished shaping the forms, all the while “paddling and pushing,” never employing a potter’s wheel. He devoted Thursdays to scratching the pieces with a saw-tooth blade to achieve the desired surface effects. On Fridays he decided on the decorations, implementing them with his own hand-made roller to add the various patterns. He had to finish the entire process by Sunday, he explained so that he could begin again on Monday. In this way, he produced six pots every week and about 250 objects a year…”[1]

In addition to Conover’s signature, each piece has its title painted on the base. Conover is essentially a self-taught potter.

[1] De Grazia, Diane.  http://clevelandartsprize.org/awardees/claude_conover.html (10/24/2018)

Public Collections

Public Collections to Display: 

American Museum of Ceramic Arts, AMOCA, Pomona, California

Arizona State University Art Museum, Tempe, Arizona

Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, Ohio

Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, Ohio

Columbus Museum of Art, Columbus, Ohio

Everson Museum of Art, Syracuse, New York

Minnesota Museum of Art, Saint Paul, Minnesota

Museum of Arts and Design, New York, New York

Newark Museum, Newark, New Jersey

Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Scripps College, Claremont, California

University of Iowa Museum of Art, Iowa City, Ohio

Utah Museum of Fine Arts, Salt Lake City, Utah

Western Reserve Historical Museum, Cleveland, Ohio

Wichita Art Association, Wichita, Kansas

Bibliography

Bibliography to Display: 

Cohen, Edie. “White Magic.” Interior Design 76, no. 3 (March 2005).

Hastie, Reid and Christian Schmidt. Encounter with Art. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: McGraw-Hill, 1969.

Held, Peter. Innovation and Change. Tempe, AZ: Arizona State University Art Museum, 2009.

Lewis, Janie N. “Designed by Art.” Art and Antiques 25, no. 11 (December 2002).

Nordness, Lee. Objects USA: Works by Artist-Craftsmen in Ceramic, Enamel, Glass, Metal, Plastic, Mosaic, wood, and Fiber. New York, NY: Viking Press, 1970.

Perry, Barbara. American Ceramics: The Collection of the Everson Museum of Art. New York, NY: Rizzoli International Publishers, 1989.

Trevor, Henry. Pottery Step by Step. New York, NY: Watson-Guptill, 1967.

 

CV or Resume: Click Here to Download
Source: The Forrest L. Merrill Collection, Dane Cloutier Archives

 

Typical Marks
Vessel
Form: Vessel
Materials: Stoneware
Method: Hand Built
The Forrest L. Merrill Collection, Dane Cloutier Archives
The Forrest L. Merrill Collection, Dane Cloutier Archives
Vase
Form: Vase
Materials: Stoneware
Method: Hand Built
The Forrest L. Merrill Collection, Dane Cloutier Archives
The Forrest L. Merrill Collection, Dane Cloutier Archives
Vases
Form: Vase
Materials: Stoneware
Method: Hand Built
The Forrest L. Merrill Collection, Dane Cloutier Archives
The Forrest L. Merrill Collection, Dane Cloutier Archives
''ACLAK"
Form: Vessel
Materials: Stoneware
Method: Hand Built
Hieronymus Collection
Hieronymus Collection
CAAK
Form: Vessel
Materials: Stoneware
Method: Hand Built
Surface Technique: Glaze, Sgraffito, Stamped
Courtesy Skinner Auctioneers-June 21-2018-Lot #174
Courtesy Skinner Auctioneers-June 21-2018-Lot #174
Balche
Form: Vase
Materials: Stoneware
Method: Thrown and Altered
Dimensions: 11 x 15"
Surface Technique: Glaze
20th Century Art and Design Auction-November 18, 2018 Treadway Gallery, lot #133
Photo: Courtesy Treadway Gallery
20th Century Art and Design Auction-November 18, 2018 Treadway Gallery, lot #133
Photo: Courtesy Treadway Gallery
Photo: Courtesy Treadway Gallery
Photo: Courtesy Treadway Gallery
Sculpture
Form: Sculpture
Materials: Stoneware
Method: Hand Built
Dimensions: 9 x 7"
Surface Technique: Glaze
20th Century Art and Design Auction-November 18, 2018 Treadway Gallery, lot #131
Photo: Courtesy Treadway Gallery
20th Century Art and Design Auction-November 18, 2018 Treadway Gallery, lot #131

Citation: Clark, Donald. "The Marks Project." Last modified November 11, 2018. http://www.themarksproject.org:443/marks/conover