Status message

Your information has been submitted.

  Printer Friendly Version

Peter Willem VandenBerge, Peter VandenBerge

Biography to Display: 

1935Born The Hague, Netherlands


1954-1957Bakersfield Junior College, Bakersfield, California

1959Art Academy, The Hague, Netherlands

1959BA California State University, Sacramento, California

1960-1962Sacramento State College, Sacramento, California

1963MA University of California, Davis, California


1966-1973Instructor, California State University, San Francisco, California

1973-2003Professor, California State University, Sacramento, California

1972Instructor, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington

1975Instructor, New York State College of Ceramics, Alfred University, Alfred, New York

1998Professor of Art Emeritus, California State University, Sacramento, California


 Peter VandenBerge is known for larger-than-life elongated busts and figures. The rough surfaces are often carved, dug into, scraped and painted with underglaze and stains applied with brushes, sponges, and knives.

VandenBerg began developing these iconic sculptures while teaching at Alfred University (1975). They evolved from earlier vegetable forms, the first of these were containers for food which gradually took on human features. Initially, he built these forms by stacking wheel-thrown and manipulated cylinders. Eventually, he built the figures using coils which allowed for more careful detailing. The coils are often visible.  The portrait busts often carry an unusual object on their heads, including houses, cars, boats, numerous different animals or simply a hat.

Peter VandenBerge settled in California after moving to the United States from the Netherlands in 1954. While at Sacramento State College he became aware of the work of Robert Arneson and transferred to the University of California at Davis to work with Arneson. VandenBerge worked with Arneson to develop the non-explosive, noncracking whiteware clay that he, Arneson, and others used in making much of what is known as Funk Ceramics.

When speaking of his inspirations VandenBerge says, “Much of the sources for my work are from past personal experiences, many arising from childhood, that hopefully will find a sculptural form, most often figurative and interwoven with all the technical and aesthetic considerations of the clay medium.”[1]

[1] Peter VandenBerge, “Statement.” John Natsoulas Gallery. Davis, California, November 10, 2018, 5:30PM



Bibliography to Display: 

“The Candy Store.” De Saisset Art Museum, Santa Clara, CA: University of Santa Clara, 1980.

Cooper, Emmanuel. Ten Thousand Years of Pottery, 4th ed. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2000.

Darling, Lowell, and Jim Adamson, et al. Nut Pot Bag: or Clay without Tears. Davis, CA: Art Center of the World, 1971.

DeBoos, Janet. “Looking in the Mirror: Aspects of Figurative Ceramics.” Ceramics (Sydney, Australia) 40 (2000).

Drutt, Helen. “The University of Iowa Museum of Art Ceramics Gallery.” Ceramics (Sydney, Australia) 68 (2007).

Faberman, Hilarie, Tenley C. Bick, and Susan C. Cameron. Fired at Davis. Stanford, CA: Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts at Stanford University, 2005.

Fitzgibbon, John. Vandenberge. Davis, CA: Natsoulas/Novelozo Gallery, 1991.

Held, Peter, ed. A Human Impulse. Tempe, AZ: Arizona State University Art Museum, 2008.

Held, Peter. Humor, Irony, and Wit: Ceramic Funk from the Sixties and Beyond. Tempe, AZ: Arizona State University, 2004.

Koppman, Debra. “Fired at Davis.” Artweek 36 no. 7 (September 2005).

Landauer, Susan, William H. Gerdts, and Patricia Trenton. The Not-so-still Life. Berkeley, CA: The University of California Press, 2003.

Lauria, Jo. “Peter VandenBerge.” American Crafts 63 no. 1 (February/March 2003).

Levin, Elaine. “Ceramic Still Life: The Common Object.” Ceramics (Sydney, Australia) 32 (1998).

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

Norton, Bertha Nye, and Lawrence Washington-Brooks, et al. The Millennium Book. Sacramento, CA: The Inclusionists, 1999-2002.

“Peter VandenBerge.” Ceramics Monthly 47 no. 6 (June/August 1999).

Roth, David M. “Peter VandenBerge at John Natsoulas Gallery.” Artweek 32 no. 4 (April 2001).

Rawson, Philip. Ceramics. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania, 1984.

Roukes, Nicholas. Artful Jesters: Innovators of Visual Wit and Humor. Berkeley, CA: Ten Speed Press, 2004.

Servis, Nancy M. The Eve Aesthetic: Contemporary Figurative Clay Sculpture by Artists from TB-9. Davis, CA: Memorial Union Art Gallery, Pence Gallery Association, 2004.

Wolfe, Townsend, and Missy Wright Anderson. National Objects Invitational. Little Rock, AR: The Arkansas Arts Center Decorative Arts Museum, 1989.



Typical Marks
Date: 1987
Form: Sculpture
Materials: Clay
Surface Technique: Slip, Stain
The Forrest L. Merrill Collection, Dane Cloutier Archives
The Forrest L. Merrill Collection, Dane Cloutier Archives
Untitled, Man with Boat on Head
Form: Sculpture
Method: Hand-Built
Surface Technique: Glaze
Photo: TMP

Citation: Clark, Donald. "The Marks Project." Last modified August 8, 2023.