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James Leedy, James A. Leedy

Biography to Display: 

1930 Born, McRoberts, Kentucky

2021 Died, Kansas City, Missouri


Columbia University

1957 BFA College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, Virginia, GI Bill

1958 MFA Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, Illinois

1959 MA Art History Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan


1951-1952 US Army

1959-1960 Associate Professor, Northern State University, Aberdeen, South Dakota

1960-1964 Associate Professor, University of Montana, Missoula, Montana

1966-2008 Kansas City Art Institute, Kansas City, Missouri

1985 Founded the Leedy-Voulkos Art Center, Kansas City, Missouri


James Leedy's work is characterized by larger than life renditions of ordinary functional objects including giant platters and oversized cups and saucers raising these utilitarian objects to the level of art objects. In addition, he is known for large sculptural forms that combine wheel-thrown, cast forms, and slabs. 

James Leedy is one of the pioneers of abstract expressionist ceramics. He settled in New York City after World War II where he sought out and joined a group that included Willem de Kooning, Franz Kline, and Jackson Pollock. His work reflects the influence of this group. 

Leedy met Rudi Autio and Peter Voulkos during the 4 years he spent teaching in Missoula, Montana. The trio went on to influence one another’s work. Leedy brought the Abstract Expressionist ideas he had gathered in New York City to the California clay community but it was Voulkos and Autio who convinced Leedy that the medium of clay was as important an art medium as paint, marble or bronze.

Public Collections

Public Collections to Display: 

Everson Museum Of Art, Syracuse, New York

John Michael Kohler Arts Center, Sheboygan, Wisconsin

Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, California

Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minneapolis, Wisconsin 

Mint Museum of Craft + Design, Charlotte, North Carolina

Museum of Arts and Design, New York, New York

Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri



Bibliography to Display: 

"A Conversation Between Peter Voulkos and Jim Leedy; Interview.” Studio Potter 21 (June 1993).

Autio, Rudy, Jim Leedy, et al. Distinguished Fires: a Survey of Ceramics in Montana, Yellowstone Art Center. Billings, MT: Yellowstone Art Center, 1995.

Autio, Rudy. “University of Montana Art Gallery, Missoula; Exhibit.” Ceramics Monthly 29 (December 1981).

Baldwin, D. “Nostalgia et cetera Gallery, Baltimore; Exhibit.” Craft Horizons 32 (December 1972)

Breckenridge, B. “John Michael Kohler Arts Center, Sheboygan, WI, Exhibit.” Craft Horizons 31 (August 1971).

 Cadieux, Michael. “Morgan Gallery, Kansas City, MO, Exhibit.” Ceramics Monthly 32 (May 1984).

 _______. “Recycled Life: Kansas City Art Institute; Exhibit.” Ceramics Monthly 30 (May 1982).

Caruso, Laura and Jim Leedy. Material, Process and Paradox: the Art of Jim Leedy. Kansas City, MO: Leedy-Voulkos Gallery, 1991.

Catto, Patricia, and Michael Cadieux. “Jim Leedy: the Re-Enchantment of Clay.” Ceramics Monthly 43 (February 1995).

Catto, Patricia and Michael Cadieux. “Jim Leedy: the Re-Enchantment of Clay.” Ceramics Monthly 43 (February 1995).

Crumrine, J. “James Leedy, Museum of Contemporary Crafts.” Craft Horizons 28 (November 1968).

Dulin, Pete. “A Talk with Jim Leedy.” Present Magazine (April 11 2007).

Kangas, Matthew, and Jim Leedy. Jim Leedy, Artist Across Boundaries. Kansas City, MO: Kansas City Art Institute, 2000.

_______. “Jim Leedy: Prehistoric Modern.” American Craft 50 (June/July 1990):

_______. “Jim Leedy: Grand Arts.” Sculpture (Washington, D.C.) 19, no. 7 (September 2000).

 _______. “Jim Leedy: Prehistoric Modern.” American Craft 50 (June/July 1990).

_______. “Leedy-Voulkos Gallery, Kansas City, MO; Exhibit.” American Ceramics 8,no. 3 (1990).

Leedy, Jim. “Line is the Vehicle.” Studio Potter 14 (December 1985).

Lislerud, Ole. “Jim Leedy: American Original”. Ceramics Art and Perception 29 (1997).

Lynn, Martha Drexler. American Studio Ceramics: Innovation and Identity 1940 to 1979. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2015.

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

Peebles, Debra. “The Bad Boys of Clay.” Ceramics Monthly 42 (December 1994).

Peterson, Susan. The Craft and Art of Clay. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1992.

_______. Working with Clay, 2nd ed. New York NY: Overlook Press, 2002.

Raynor, Vivian. “Exhibition at Madison Gallery.” Arts Magazine 37 (April 1963).

Risatti, Howard. “Richmond, Virginia: North American Ceramic Sculpture Now.‟

Sculpture (Washington, D.C.) 23, no. 9 (November 2004).

Thorson, Alice. “Jim Leedy at Grand Arts.” Art in America 88, no. 7 (July 2000).




Typical Marks
Colorful Vessel
Date: 1954
Form: Sculpture
Method: Assembled
Surface Technique: Glaze
The Forrest L. Merrill Collection, Dane Cloutier Archives
The Forrest L. Merrill Collection, Dane Cloutier Archives
Method: Thrown and Altered
Surface Technique: Glaze
Untitled Gold Platter
Date: 2016
Materials: Mixed Media

Citation: "The Marks Project." Last modified April 28, 2023.