Status message

Your information has been submitted.

  Printer Friendly Version

Robert Sperry , Robert H. Sperry

Biography to Display: 

1927Born Bushnell, Illinois

1998Died Seattle, Washington

EDUCATION

1950BA University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada

1953BFA School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois

1955MFA University of Washington, Seattle, Washington

WORK EXPERIENCE

1955-1982Faculty, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington

RESIDENCIES AND APPRENTICESHIPS

1954Artist in Residence, Archie Bray Foundation, Helena, Montana

 

Robert Sperry’s vessels are wheel thrown stonewares with dynamic surfaces of crawling or crackled glaze. Sperry applied a heavy slip layer over a dark glaze that created a contrast with the surface to achieve his desired effects. His signature style became bold, crackled white on black bowls, platters, murals, and sculptures. At times, he added bright colors, but primarily he worked in black and white. Sperry embraced clay as an artistic medium for expression and is stylistically affiliated with the group of Abstract Expressionist ceramic artists. Sperry incorporated broad and diverse influences including Asian ceramic traditions and Scandinavian ceramic trends.

Sperry first handled clay in 1945 while a G.I. serving in Germany during World War II. His early career was influenced by meeting both Peter Voulkos and Rudy Autio at the Archie Bray Foundation in 1954.

Although known primarily as a ceramic sculptor, in the 1960s Sperry shifted his shifted his focus to filmmaking and traveled to document Japanese folk potters in "Village Potters of Onda" (1966). At the end of the 1960s, he returned to functional pottery. The 1970s were a decade of experimentation. Sperry flirted with funk but quickly moved on to explore the lusters and finally focused on the black and white crackle and crawl glazes for which he is known.

An interview with Robert Sperry conducted August 11, 1983, by LaMar Harrington for the Archives of American Art's Northwest Oral History Project is available at: 
http://www.aaa.si.edu/collections/interviews/oral-history-interview-robert-sperry-13172.

Public Collections

Public Collections to Display: 

Arizona State University Art Museum, Tempe, Arizona

Bellevue Art Museum, Bellevue, Washington

Columbia Museum of Art, Columbia, South Carolina

Everson Museum of Art, Syracuse, New York

Henry Gallery, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington

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

The Mint Museumn, Charlotte, North Carolina

Museum of Arts and Design, New York, New York

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

Portland Art Museum, Portland, Oregon

Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, Washington

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

Tacoma Art Museum, Tacoma, Washington

Washington State University Museum, Pullman, Washington

Weisman Museum, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Yellowstone Art Museum, Billings, Montana

Bibliography

Bibliography to Display: 

Rupp, James. Art in Seattle's Public Places. Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press, 1992.

Peterson, Susan. The Art & Craft of Clay. New York, NY: Prentice-Hall, 1990.

Perry, Barbara. American Ceramics: The Collection of the Everson Museum of Art. Syracuse, NY: Everson Museum of Art, 1989.

Levin, Elaine. History of American Ceramics. New York, NY: Abrams, 1988.

Kangas, Matthew. Robert Sperry: A Retrospective. Bellevue, WA: Bellevue Art Museum, 1985.

______________ . Robert Sperry: Bright Abyss. Pomona, CA: American Museum of Ceramic Art, 2009.

Kelly, Jeff. Potters and Prints. Ketchum, ID: Sun Valley Center for the Arts and Humanities, 1985.

McTwiggen, Michael. Surface and Form: A Union of Polarities in Contemporary Ceramics. Pomona, CA: National Museum of Ceramic Art, 1989.

 

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

Artist's Studio: Sperry/Warashina

 

Typical Marks
ca 1960
1961
1974
1977
1977
1986
1993
Vase
Date: ca 1960
Form: Vase
Materials: Stoneware
Method: Thrown
E. John Bullard Collection
E. John Bullard Collection
Slab Bottle
Date: 1961
Form: Bottle
Materials: Stoneware
Method: Slab Built
Surface Technique: Carved, Glaze
 Everson Museum of Art Collection, Musuem Purchase, 22nd Ceramic National, 1968
Photo: John Polak
Everson Museum of Art Collection, Musuem Purchase, 22nd Ceramic National, 1968
Photo: John Polak
Photo: John Polak
The Adventures of Cock Robin
Date: 1974
Form: Plate
Method: Thrown
Surface Technique: Glaze
Photo: Patti Warashina
Photo: Patti Warashina
Tile
Date: 1977
Form: Tile
Materials: Shards
Method: Slab Built
Surface Technique: Glaze, Luster
Photo: Patti Warashina
Photo: Patti Warashina
Tile
Date: 1977
Form: Tile
Method: Slab Built
Surface Technique: Glaze, Luster
Judith and Martin Schwartz Collection
Photo: John Polak
Judith and Martin Schwartz Collection
Photo: John Polak
Platter
Date: 1979
Form: Platter
Materials: Stoneware
Method: Thrown
Surface Technique: Glaze
Judith and Martin Schwartz Collection
Photo: John Polak
Judith and Martin Schwartz Collection
Large Charger #759
Date: 1986
Form: Charger
Materials: Stoneware
Method: Thrown
Surface Technique: Glaze, Slip Trailing
E. John Bullard Collection
E. John Bullard Collection
Black and White Bowl
Date: 1993
Form: Bowl
Method: Thrown
Surface Technique: Glaze
Photo: Patti Warashina
Photo: Patti Warashina
Mug
Form: Mug
Materials: Stoneware
Method: Thrown
Surface Technique: Glaze
Photo: Patti Warashina
Photo: Patti Warashina
Mug
Form: Mug
Materials: Porcelain
Method: Thrown
Surface Technique: Glaze
Photo: Patti Warashina
Photo: Patti Warashina
Bowl
Method: Thrown
Surface Technique: Glaze
Collection Hayne Bayless
Photo: Hayne Bayless
Collection Hayne Bayless
Photo: Hayne Bayless

Citation: "The Marks Project." Last modified June 5, 2018. http://www.themarksproject.org:443/marks/sperry