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Viola Frey

Biography to Display: 

1933Born, Lodi, California

2004Died, Oakland, California

EDUCATION

1952-1953Stockton Delta College, Stockton, California

1953-1956BFA California College of the Arts, Oakland, California

1956-1958Tulane University, New Orleans, Louisiana

PRIMARY WORK EXPERIENCE

1957-1958Worked with Katherine Choy at the Clay Art Center, Port Chester, New York

1970-1999Professor of Art, California College of Arts and Crafts, Oakland, California

 

Viola Frey is known for her monumental, brightly colored, figural sculptures. She became a major player in California Funk, a movement among artists working with clay who challenged the confines of functional work.

In the 1970s she began to build her larger than life, multi-piece, figural sculptures. She would cut into these pieces in order to move and fire them. Her figures are textured and glazed with bright colors.

Frey also created large-scale ceramic plates and chargers. She was equally skilled as both a draftsman and painter. In addition, she was an avid collector of kitsch ceramics and often made molds from them, using the cast pieces in some of her work. 

Frey joined the faculty of California College of the Arts in 1960. She retired in 1999 as chair of the Ceramics program.

An interview with Viola Frey conducted Feb. 27, May 15 and June 19, 1995 by Paul Karlstrom, for the Archives of American Art, Women in the Arts in Southern California Oral History Project is available at:
http://www.aaa.si.edu/collections/interviews/oral-history-interview-viola-frey-12554.

Public Collections

Bibliography

Bibliography to Display: 

Chadwick, Whitney. Viola Frey. Fresno, CA: Fresno Art Museum, 1991.

Clowes, Jody. “Bigger, More: The Art of Viola Frey,” American Craft, December/January 2010.

Frey, Viola and Donald Kuspit. Viola Frey: Plates 1968-1984. New York, NY: Nancy Hoffman Gallery, 1994.

__________. Viola Frey. San Francisco, CA: Rena Branstein Gallery, 1994.

Gluck, Grace. “Art Review: Viola Frey—A Lasting Legacy,” New York Times, October 7, 2005.

Hirsch, Faye. “Viola Frey,” Art in America, April 2010.

Israel, Julia. Review, “Bigger, Better, More: The Art of Viola Frey,” Out New York: Kids, February 2010.

Johnson, Ken. “Colossi, Both Kitschy and Compelling,” New York Times, February 16, 2010.

Kohlhaas, Alidë. “Viola Frey Powerful Images,” Lancette Arts Journal, September 2099.

Krupit, Donald. Viola Frey: Plates 1968-1994. New York, NY: Nancy Hoffman Gallery, 1995.

Rice, Robin. “Dirt on Delight,” American Craft, October/November 2009.

Taragin, Davira, Patterson Sims and Susan Jefferies. Bigger, Better, More: The Art of Viola Frey. Manchester, VT: Hudson Hills, 2009.

Trapp, Kenneth R. Viola Frey: A Lasting Legacy. New York, NY: Nancy Hoffman Gallery, 2005.

 

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

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

CV or Resume: Click Here to Download

 

Typical Marks
The Forrest L. Merrill Collection
The Forrest L. Merrill Collection
1960s
Margaret Pennington Collection, Photo: John Polak
Margaret Pennington Collection, Photo: John Polak
1969
Metropolitan Museum of Art, Anonymous Gift, 2000, 2000.427a,b, Photo: TMP
Metropolitan Museum of Art, Anonymous Gift, 2000, 2000.427a,b, Photo: TMP
ca. 1986
2000
Racine Art Museum, Gift of David and Jacqueline Charak, Photo: TMP
Racine Art Museum, Gift of David and Jacqueline Charak, Photo: TMP
2000
Sculptural Vessel
Date: 1960s
Materials: Stoneware
Method: Thrown, Hand Built
Surface Technique: Glaze
The Forrest L. Merrill Collection
The Forrest L. Merrill Collection
Covered Jar
Date: 1968
Form: Covered Jar
Materials: Earthenware
Method: Thrown
Surface Technique: Glaze, Incised
Collection Mills College Art Museum, Antonio Prieto Memorial Collection
Collection Mills College Art Museum, Antonio Prieto Memorial Collection
Flying Duck
Date: 1969
Materials: Earthenware
Method: Hand Built
Surface Technique: Glaze
Margaret Pennington Collection
Photo: John Polak
Margaret Pennington Collection
Photo: John Polak
Apologue A Dialogue Between Animals and Object
Date: 1973
Method: Hand Built
Courtesy Elaine Levin Archive, University of Southern California
Courtesy Elaine Levin Archive, University of Southern California
Father Series
Date: 1974
Form: Wall Hanging
Materials: Stoneware
Method: Drape Mold, Hand Built
Surface Technique: Glaze
Judith and Martin Schwartz Collection
Photo: John Polak
Judith and Martin Schwartz Collection
Photo: John Polak
Photo: John Polak
Plate Full of Figurines, Bricolage Series
Date: 1982
Form: Plate
Materials: Earthenware
Method: Mixed Methods
Surface Technique: Glaze
Margaret Pennington Collection
Photo: John Polak
Margaret Pennington Collection
Flower Eater
Date: 1983
Materials: Earthenware
Method: Hand Built
Surface Technique: Glaze
Margaret Pennington Collection
Photo: John Polak
Margaret Pennington Collection
Photo: John Polak
Photo: John Polak
Cup and Saucer, Viola Frey with Betty Woodman
Date: 1986
Form: Cup and Saucer
Materials: Earthenware
Method: Thrown
Surface Technique: Glaze, Luster
Metropolitan Museum of Art, Anonymous Gift, 2000, 2000.427.2a,b
Photo: TMP
Metropolitan Museum of Art, Anonymous Gift, 2000, 2000.427.2a,b
Photo: TMP
Photo: TMP
Photo: TMP
Platter
Date: 1988
Form: Platter
Materials: Earthenware
Method: Mixed Methods
Surface Technique: Glaze
Margaret Pennington Collection
Photo: John Polak
Margaret Pennington Collection
Photo: John Polak
Thinking Man
Date: 1993
Materials: Earthenware
Method: Hand Built
Surface Technique: Glaze
Margaret Pennington Collection
Photo: John Polak
Margaret Pennington Collection
Pegasus Platter
Date: 2000
Form: Platter
Materials: Mixed Media
Surface Technique: Glaze
Three Figures and the Henry Moore Monkey
Date: 2000
Materials: Earthenware
Method: Hand Built
Surface Technique: Glaze
Racine Art Museum, Gift of David and Jacqueline Charak
Photo: TMP
Racine Art Museum, Gift of David and Jacqueline Charak
Photo: TMP
Photo: TMP
Standing Woman III
Date: 2003
Method: Hand Built
Surface Technique: Glaze
Fallen Man
Method: Hand Built
Surface Technique: Glaze

Citation: "The Marks Project." Last modified August 11, 2017. http://www.themarksproject.org:443/marks/frey