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Peter Voulkos

Biography to Display: 

1924Born Bozeman, Montana

2002Died Bowling Green, Ohio

1943-1946United States Army

EDUCATION

1951BS Painting, Montana State University, Bozeman, Montana

1952MFA California College of the Arts and Crafts, Oakland, California

RESIDENCIES

1951-1954Resident Potter, Archie Bray Foundation, Helena, Montana

WORK EXPERIENCE

1953Instructor, Black Mountain College, Asheville, North Carolina

1954-1959Otis College of Art and Design, Los Angeles, California

1959-1985Faculty, University of California, Berkeley, California

 

Peter Voulkos is known for his Abstract Expressionist ceramic sculpture and plates characterized by large-scale, unglazed fractured surfaces that set the stage for the mid-twentieth century break with traditional concepts of clay, functional pots, and the potter. His early career in Bozeman, Montana, influenced by the work of Bernard Leach and Shoji Hamada, was spent honing his skills as a potter making a large body of elegantly thrown and glazed bottle vases and dinnerware.

Voulkos was an influential ceramics teacher. He founded two major ceramics programs: The first in 1954 at the Otis College of Art and Design, then called the Los Angeles County Art Institute, at which his work rapidly became abstract and sculptural; and the second, in 1958 at the University of California, Berkeley. His programs produced a roster of potters, many of whom went on to teach, and whose combined influence produced much of the iconic work of the 20th century including Ken Price, Billy Al Bengston, Paul Soldner, Stephen De Stabler, Jun Kaneko, Larry Shep, Mac McClain (McCloud), John Mason, James Melchert, Michael Frimkess, Jerry Rothman, and Henry Takemoto.

These students highly individual work did not have a “Voulkos look”. The common thread was the approach to clay that allowed personal direct expression. The work produced during this period revolted against the traditional production of the vessel or container that formed the foundation of American pottery. During this time, Voulkos produced new forms that were aggressively asymmetrical, no longer needed to be useful, sometimes ‘crudely’ formed, and very controversial. Voulkos established a unique American ceramic aesthetic.

In 1962 Voulkos shifted his interest to metal, however, in 1973 he returned to ceramics creating an iconic series of 200 plates that were thrown for him to rework. While in the leather stage, Voulkos energized these thrown forms by embedding white porcelain bits, gashing, slashing and puncturing the surfaces.

His Abstract Expressionist ceramics were influenced by his time at Black Mountain College in the summer of 1953. Voulkos is credited with pushing back the boundaries of clay, literally reinventing American ceramics. His work clearly crossed the traditional divide between ceramic as craft and as fine art.

Public Collections

Public Collections to Display: 

Aichi Prefectural Ceramic Museum, Nagoya, Japan

Albany Mall, Albany, New York

Alfred Ceramic Art Museum, Alfred University, Alfred, New York

American Museum of Ceramic Arts, Pomona, California

Archie Bray Foundation, Helena, Montana

Arizona State University Art Museum, Tempe, Arizona

Arkansas Arts Center, Little Rock, Arkansas

Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth, Australia

Australian National Gallery, Canberra, Australia

Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore, Maryland

Banff Centre, School of Fine Arts, Alberta, Canada

Boise Art Museum, Boise, Idaho

Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Cincinnati Art Museum, Cincinnati, Ohio

Contemporary Museum, Honolulu, Hawaii

Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

Cranbrook Academy of Art, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan

Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, California

Daum Museum of Contemporary Art, Sedalia, Missouri

David & Alfred Smart Museum of Art, University of Chicago, Illinois

Den Permanente, Copenhagen, Denmark

Denver Art Museum, Denver, Colorado

Des Moines Art Center, Des Moines, Iowa

Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit, Michigan

Elvehjem Museum of Art, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin

Everson Museum of Art, Syracuse, New York

Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, San Francisco, California

Fine Arts Museum of the South, Mobile, Alabama

Franklin D. Murphy Sculpture Garden, University of California, Los Angeles, California

Fredrick R. Weisman Art Museum, University of Minnesota, Minnesota

Henry Art Gallery, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington

Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York

Het Kruithuis, Museum of Contemporary Art's Hertogenbosch, the Netherlands

High Museum of Art, Atlanta, Georgia

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.

Holter Museum of Art, Helena, Montana

Honolulu Academy of Art, Honolulu, Hawaii

Ichon World Ceramic Center, Ichon, Kyonggi Province, Korea

Indiana University Art Museum, Bloomington, Indiana

Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, Kalamazoo, Missouri

Krannert Art Museum, University of Illinois, Champaign, Illinois

Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, La Jolla, California

Long Beach Museum of Art, Long Beach, California

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

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, New York

Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Minnesota Museum of American Art, St. Paul, Mineesota

Montana State University School of Art Permanent Collection, Bozeman, Montana

Musée des Arts Decoratifs de Montréal, Montréal, Canada

Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam, the Netherlands

Museum of Arts and Design, New York, New York

Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, Illinois

Museum of Contemporary Ceramic Art, Shigaraki Ceramic Cultural Park, Japan

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts

Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas

Museum of Modern Art, New York, New York

Museum of Modern Art, Wakayama, Japan

National Gallery of Art, Melbourne, Australia

National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto, Japan

Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri

New Mexico Museum of Art, Santa Fe, New Mexico

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

Nordenfjeldske Kunstindustrimuseum, Trondheim, Norway

Norton Simon Museum, Pasadena, California

Oakland Museum of California, Oakland, California

Palm Springs Desert Museum, Palm Springs, California

Paul Creative Arts Center, University of New Hampshire, Durham, New Hampshire

Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Phoenix Art Museum, Phoenix, Arizona

Portland Art Museum, Portland, Oregon

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, California

Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Santa Barbara

Scripps College, Claremont, California

Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, Washington

Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery & Sculpture Garden, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, Nebraska

Smithsonian American Art Museum, Renwick Gallery, Washington, DC

Southern Illinois University Art Museum, Carbondale, Illinois

St. Louis Art Museum, St. Louis, Missouri

Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Tokyo Folk Art Museum, Tokyo, Japan

University Art Museum, University of California, Berkeley, California

University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado

University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida

University of Michigan Museum of Art, Ann Arbor, Michigan

Utah Museum of Fine Arts, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah

Victoria and Albert Museum, London, England

Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, New York

Yamaguchi Prefectural Museum of Art, Japan

Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Connecticut

Yellowstone Art Museum, Billings, Montana

Bibliography

Bibliography to Display: 

Coplans, John. Abstract Expressionist Ceramics. Irvine, CA: University of California, 1966.

Fischer, Hal. "The Art of Peter Voulkos.” ARTFORUM, November 1978.

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Peter Voulkos: A Retrospective 1948-1978. San Francisco, CA, 1978.                                                                                                          

Slivka, Rose. Peter Voulkos: A Dialogue with Clay. New York, NY: New York Graphic Society in association with American Crafts Council, 1978.                            

Slivka, Rose and Karen Tsujimoto. The Art of Peter Voulkos. Oakland, CA: Kodansha International and the Oakland Museum, 1995.

 

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

 

Typical Marks
1952-54
1954
1956
ca 1950s
1962
1975
1978
1980
1982
1998
Cookie Jar
Date: 1950
Form: Covered Jar
Materials: Stoneware
Method: Thrown
Surface Technique: Underglaze
Everson Museum of Art Collection
Photo: John Polak
Everson Museum of Art Collection
Photo: John Polak
Vessel
Date: ca 1950s
Form: Vessel
Materials: Stoneware
Method: Thrown and Altered
Surface Technique: Glaze
University of Providence Collection, Great Falls, Montana
Photo: TMP
University of Providence Collection, Great Falls, Montana
Photo: TMP
Photo: TMP
Vase
Date: 1952
Form: Vase
Materials: Stoneware
Method: Thrown
Surface Technique: Glaze
Mr. and Mrs. Fred Marer Collection, 92.1.147, Scripps College
Photo: TMP
Mr. and Mrs. Fred Marer Collection, 92.1.147, Scripps College
Photo: TMP
Photo: TMP
Lidded Jar
Date: 1952-54
Form: Covered Jar
Materials: Stoneware
Method: Thrown
Surface Technique: Glaze, Wax Resist
Courtesy of Treadway Toomey Auctions
Courtesy of Treadway Toomey Auctions
Bottle with Face
Date: 1954
Form: Bottle
Materials: Stoneware
Method: Thrown and Altered, Carved
Surface Technique: Glaze
Margaret Pennington Collection
Photo: John Polak
Margaret Pennington Collection
Photo: John Polak
Photo: John Polak
Vessel
Date: 1956
Form: Vessel
Materials: Stoneware
Method: Hand Built
Surface Technique: Glaze
Mr. and Mrs. Fred Marer Collection, 92.1.129, Scripps College
Photo: TMP
Mr. and Mrs. Fred Marer Collection, 92.1.129, Scripps College
Photo: TMP
Photo: TMP
Bullfight
Date: 1957
Form: Platter
Materials: Stoneware
Method: Slab molded
Surface Technique: Glaze
Mr. and Mrs. Fred Marer Collection, 92.1.153, Scripps College
Photo: TMP
Mr. and Mrs. Fred Marer Collection, 92.1.153, Scripps College
Photo: TMP
Photo: TMP
Plate
Date: 1957
Materials: Stoneware
Method: Pierced, Thrown
Surface Technique: Glaze
Mr. and Mrs. Fred Marer Collection, 78.1.237, Scripps College
Photo: TMP
Mr. and Mrs. Fred Marer Collection, 78.1.237, Scripps College
Photo: TMP
Photo: TMP
Plate
Date: 1957
Materials: Stoneware
Method: Thrown
Surface Technique: Glaze
Mr. and Mrs. Fred Marer Collection, 92.1.132, Scripps College
Photo: TMP
Mr. and Mrs. Fred Marer Collection, 92.1.132, Scripps College
Photo: TMP
Photo: TMP
Plate
Date: 1973
Materials: Stoneware
Method: Pierced, Thrown
Surface Technique: Glaze, Incised
Mr. and Mrs. Fred Marer Collection, 92.2.120, Scripps College
Photo: TMP
Mr. and Mrs. Fred Marer Collection, 92.2.120, Scripps College
Photo: TMP
Photo: TMP
Charger
Date: 1973
Form: Charger
Materials: Stoneware
Method: Thrown and Altered
Surface Technique: Glaze
Candice Groot Collection
Photo: TMP
Candice Groot Collection
Photo: TMP
Photo: TMP
Plate
Date: 1973
Materials: Stoneware, Porcelain
Method: Thrown
Surface Technique: Cobalt Glaze, Glaze, Inlaid
Mr. and Mrs. Fred Marer Collection, 79.8.30, Scripps College
Photo: TMP
Mr. and Mrs. Fred Marer Collection, 79.8.30, Scripps College
Photo: TMP
Photo: TMP
Plate
Date: 1973
Materials: Stoneware
Method: Pierced, Thrown and Altered
Surface Technique: Impressed, Unglazed
Mr. and Mrs. Fred Marer Collection, 80.8.36, Scripps College
Photo: TMP
Mr. and Mrs. Fred Marer Collection, 80.8.36, Scripps College
Photo: TMP
Photo: VOULKOS
Plate
Date: 1973
Materials: Stoneware
Method: Pierced, Thrown
Surface Technique: Glaze, Incised
Mr. and Mrs. Fred Marer Collection, 80.8.37, Scripps College
Photo: TMP
Mr. and Mrs. Fred Marer Collection, 80.8.37, Scripps College
Photo: TMP
Photo: TMP
Vase
Date: 1973
Method: Thrown and Altered
Surface Technique: Glaze
Mr. and Mrs. Fred Marer Collection, 87.1.9, Scripps College
Photo: TMP
Mr. and Mrs. Fred Marer Collection, 87.1.9, Scripps College
Photo: TMP
Photo: TMP
Untitled Stack
Date: 1974
Method: Thrown and Altered
Surface Technique: Glaze
Courtesy Frank Lloyd Gallery
Courtesy Frank Lloyd Gallery
Charger
Date: 1975
Form: Plate
Materials: Stoneware
Method: Thrown and Altered
Surface Technique: Incised, Unglazed
Courtesy Rago Arts and Auctions
Photo: TMP
Courtesy Rago Arts and Auctions
Photo: TMP
Nine Plates
Date: 1978
Form: Plate
Materials: Stoneware
Method: Thrown and Altered
Surface Technique: Glaze
Judith and Martin Schwartz Collection
Photo: John Polak
Judith and Martin Schwartz Collection
NAGA
Date: 1982
Materials: Stoneware
Method: Thrown and Altered, Hand Built, Mixed Methods
Surface Technique: Glaze
Racine Art Museum, Gift of Karen Johnson Boyd
Photo: TMP
Racine Art Museum, Gift of Karen Johnson Boyd
Photo: TMP
Photo: TMP
Cadiz
Date: 1998
Materials: Stoneware
Method: Thrown and Altered
Yale University Art Gallery, Gift of Marcus C. Landrum
Photo: TMP
Yale University Art Gallery, Gift of Marcus C. Landrum
Photo: TMP
Photo: TMP
Covered Jar
Form: Jar
Materials: Stoneware
Method: Thrown
Surface Technique: Glaze, Wax Resist
Paris Gibson Square Museum of Art, Wells-Fargo Bank Collection, Great Falls, Montana
Photo: TMP
Paris Gibson Square Museum of Art, Wells-Fargo Bank Collection, Great Falls, Montana
Vase
Form: Vase
Materials: Shards
Method: Thrown
Surface Technique: Glaze, Wax Resist
Paris Gibson Square Museum of Art, Wells-Fargo Bank Collection, Great Falls, Montana
Photo: JK
Paris Gibson Square Museum of Art, Wells-Fargo Bank Collection, Great Falls, Montana
Vase
Form: Vase
Materials: Stoneware
Method: Thrown
Surface Technique: Glaze, Wax Resist
Paris Gibson Square Museum of Art, Wells-Fargo Bank Collection, Great Falls, Montana
Paris Gibson Square Museum of Art, Wells-Fargo Bank Collection, Great Falls, Montana
Bowl
Form: Bowl
Materials: Stoneware
Method: Thrown
Surface Technique: Glaze
Candice Groot Collection
Photo: TMP
Candice Groot Collection
Photo: TMP
Photo: TMP
Bottle
Form: Bottle
Materials: Stoneware
Method: Thrown
Surface Technique: Glaze
Hieronymus
Hieronymus
Vase and Bowl
Form: Bowl, Vase
Materials: Stoneware
Method: Thrown
Surface Technique: Glaze
Courtesy Rago Arts and Auctions
Courtesy Rago Arts and Auctions

Citation: "The Marks Project." Last modified March 18, 2019. http://www.themarksproject.org:443/marks/voulkos