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Glen Lukens

Biography to Display: 

1887Born Cowgill, Missouri

1967Died Los Angeles, California

PRIMARY WORK EXPERIENCE

1933-1950Founder Ceramics Department, University of Southern California (USC), Los Angeles, California

 

Glen Lukens was a well-known teacher and ceramic artist who focused on glaze development. He attended the Oregon State Agricultural School to study education and was required to take a ceramics course. Without a potter’s wheel on site, he was given a rudimentary introduction to coil built and press molding techniques. He was essentially self-taught spending the rest of his career experimenting and learning.

Taken by ancient Egyptian blue, Lukens sought to replicate the color. He first searched the Mojave Desert and mined the deserts around Palm Springs and Death Valley for, not only clay, but also glaze minerals. Lukens went on to develop a process of pulverizing agate, amethyst, turquoise, minerals and local stones with added glass powder. Using this method he produced a low-fired palette that was known as “California colors.” It was in Death Valley that he discovered a copper-rich clay that led to the formula for an "Egyptian Blue" glaze found on many of his works.

In 1933 he founded the Ceramics Department at the University of Southern California (USC). Lukens typically cast simple forms decorated with the glazes he formulated. As his career developed he began to use rough surfaces. He introduced these new approaches at a time when smooth surfaces were still the standard. In addition to clay, he worked with glass and designed jewelry. After retiring from USC, Lukens worked in Haiti teaching students to hand-make and fire vessels to replace gourds with more sanitary clay food vessels.

He was one of the California group of artists that includes, among others, Laura Andreson, Carlton Ball (one of his USC students), Marguerite Wildenhain, Gertrud and Otto Natzler and Beatrice Wood who formed a core of the early studio pottery movement known for experimenting, teaching, and writing. His artistic credo was: “The new in art is incredibly old and the old is still vastly new.” (Lukens, 1937, p.38)

Public Collections

Public Collections to Display: 

Arizona State University Art Museum, Tempe, Arizona

Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens, San Marino, California

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

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, New York

Museum of Art and Archaeology, University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri

Museum of Arts and Design, New York, New York

Museum of Contemporary Craft, Portland, Oregon

San Diego Museum of Art, San Diego, California

Bibliography

Bibliography to Display: 

Clark, Garth, and Margie Hughto. A Century of Ceramics in the United States 1878-1978. New York, NY: Dutton in association with the Everson Museum of Art, 1979.

Levin, Elaine. Glen Lukens: Pioneer of the Vessel Aesthetic. Los Angeles, CA: California State University, 1982.

Lauria, Jo. Color and Fire Defining Moments in Studio Ceramics, 1950-2000. Los Angeles, CA: LACMA in association with Rizzoli International Publications, Inc., 2001.

Lukens, Glen. “Ceramic Art at the University of Southern California.” Design 38 (May 1937).

___________. “The New Craftsman”. Design 38 (November 1937)

Peterson, Susan. The Craft And Art Of Clay. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1992.

Thompson, Greig, ed. Feeling, Thought and Spirit: The Ceramic Works of Glen Lukens. Columbia, MO: Museum of Art and Archaeology, 2006.

 

 

Typical Marks
1924
ca 1936
ca 1936
1940-1950
1940-1950
Vase
Date: 1924
Materials: Earthenware
Surface Technique: Glaze
The Forrest L. Merrill Collection
The Forrest L. Merrill Collection
Bowl
Date: 1935
Materials: Stoneware
Method: Thrown
Surface Technique: Glaze
June Sakata Collection
Photo: TMP
June Sakata Collection
Photo: TMP
Photo: TMP
Photo: TMP
Death Valley Plate
Date: ca 1936
Materials: Earthenware
Method: Thrown
Surface Technique: Slip Trailing, Unglazed
Everson Museum of Art Collection, Purchase Prize, Gift of IBM Corp.,10th Ceramic National, 1941
Photo: John Polak
Everson Museum of Art Collection, Purchase Prize, Gift of IBM Corp.,10th Ceramic National, 1941
Photo: John Polak
Photo: John Polak
Yellow Bowl
Date: ca 1936
Materials: Earthenware
Method: Thrown
Surface Technique: Crackle Glaze
Everson Museum of Art Collection, Gift of artist, 1940
Photo: John Polak
Everson Museum of Art Collection, Gift of artist, 1940
Photo: John Polak
Photo: John Polak
Earthenware Bowl
Date: 1940-1950
Materials: Earthenware
Method: Hand Built
Surface Technique: Glaze
Courtesy Rago Art and Auction Center
Photo: TMP
Courtesy Rago Art and Auction Center
Photo: TMP
Square Plate
Date: 1940-1950
Materials: Earthenware
Surface Technique: Glaze
E. John Bullard Collection
E. John Bullard Collection
Large Charger
Date: ca 1950
Materials: Earthenware
Method: Hand Built
Surface Technique: Glaze
E. John Bullard Collection
Photo: TMP
E. John Bullard Collection
Bowl
Method: Thrown
Surface Technique: Glaze
Courtesy of Treadway Toomey Auctions
Courtesy of Treadway Toomey Auctions
Vase
Method: Thrown
Surface Technique: Glaze
Courtesy Toomey & Co. Auctioneers, March 10, 2019, lot # 532
Courtesy Toomey & Co. Auctioneers, March 10, 2019, lot # 532

Citation: "The Marks Project." Last modified May 28, 2019. http://www.themarksproject.org:443/marks/lukens