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Rudolf Staffel

Biography to Display: 

1911Born, San Antonio, Texas

2002Died, Alfred, New York

EDUCATION

1931Student, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois

1937Teacher, Arts and Crafts Club, New Orleans, Louisiana

1940-1978Faculty, Tyler School of Art, Elkins Park, Pennsylvania

 

Rudolf Staffel is known for developing techniques for manipulating the light transmission qualities of porcelain using simple bowl, vase and abstract forms, called “Light Gatherers”. They are thrown or slab built vessels that incorporate incised, pinched, inlaid, pierced, stamped, applied and slip decorated techniques. Generally unglazed he sometimes colored the porcelain body with green, blue-green or blue stains. Staffel’s work explored porcelain’s qualities of translucency and strength.

His early clay education was with artists and potters. In the 1920s Staffel met and studied painting in New York City with Hans Hoffman and Jose Arpa. Later he worked with potters, learning to throw on a potter’s wheel in Mexico. In 1931, he took a formal ceramics course at the Art Institute in Chicago with Louis Ripman and Laura Van Papelladam. He then worked as a production potter and learned pottery history and traditions from Paul Cox in New Orleans. Staffel began his career making wheel thrown functional stoneware pots.

In the 1950s Staffel had his first experience working with porcelain when commissioned to produce a dinner service.  He worked and experimented with various procellaneous clay bodies for the rest of his career learning to alter the transmission of light through the thickness and texture of the vessel walls. These manipulations were integral to the vessel structure and not simple decoration. Staffel’s work is both container and sculpture with a painterly approach to the use of porcelain.

Public Collections

Bibliography

Bibliography to Display: 

Jeffri, Joan, ed. The Craftsperson Speaks: Artists in Varied Media Discuss Their Crafts. New York, NY: Greenwood Press, 1992.

Levin, Elaine. The History of American Ceramics: From Pipkins and Bean Pots to Contemporary Forms, 1607 to the Present. New York, NY: Harry N. Abrams, 1988.

Ramljak, Suzanne. Crafting a Legacy: Contemporary American Crafts in the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2002.

Staffel, Rudolf, Marianne Aav and Helen Williams Drutt. Rudolf Staffel: Searching for Light. Philadelphia, PA: Philadelphia Museum of Art and Helsinki, Finland: Museum of Applied Arts, 1996.

 

Website(s):

http://www.rudolfstaffel.com

 

Typical Marks
1970
1975
1982
Vase
Date: 1970
Form: Vase
Materials: Porcelain
Method: Thrown and Altered, Carved
Surface Technique: Glaze, Stamped
Everson Museum of At Collection, Museum purchase in the name of William Milliken
Photo: John Polak
Everson Museum of At Collection, Museum purchase in the name of William Milliken
Photo: John Polak
Light Gatherer
Date: 1975
Form: Vessel
Materials: Porcelain
Method: Thrown and Altered, Carved
Surface Technique: Glaze
Margaret Pennington Collection
Photo: John Polak
Margaret Pennington Collection
Photo: John Polak
Photo: John Polak
Photo: John Polak
Light Gatherer Bowl
Date: 1982
Form: Bowl
Materials: Colored Clay
Method: Hand Built
Judith and Martin Schwartz Collection
Photo: John Polak
Judith and Martin Schwartz Collection
Light Gatherer
Form: Vase
Materials: Porcelain
Method: Thrown and Altered
Surface Technique: Glaze
Photo: liveauctioneers.com
Photo: liveauctioneers.com
Photo: liveauctioneers.com

Citation: "The Marks Project." Last modified September 18, 2017. http://www.themarksproject.org:443/marks/staffel