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  • Edited by Elaine M. Levin

    Movers & Shakers in American Ceramics: Defining Twentieth Century Ceramics

    A C o l l e c t i o n o f A r t i c l e s f r o m C e r a m i c s M o n t h l y

    A Ceramics Monthly Handbook

  • Movers & Shakers in American Ceramics:

    Defining Twentieth Century Ceramics

  • Movers & Shakers in American Ceramics:

    Defining Twentieth Century Ceramics A C o l l e c t i o n o f A r t i c l e s f r o m Ceramics Monthly

    Edited by Elaine M. Levin

    Published by

    The American Ceramic Society 600 N. Cleveland Ave., Suite 210 Westerville, Ohio 43082 USA

  • The American Ceramic Society 600 N. Cleveland Ave., Suite 210 Westerville, OH 43082

    © 2003, 2011 by The American Ceramic Society, All rights reserved.

    ISBN: 1-57498-165-X (Paperback)

    ISBN: 978-1-57498-560-3 (PDF)

    No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, microfilming, recording or otherwise, without written permission from the publisher, except by a reviewer, who may quote brief passages in review.

    Authorization to photocopy for internal or personal use beyond the limits of Sections 107 and 108 of the U.S. Copyright Law is granted by The American Ceramic Society, provided that the appropriate fee is paid directly to the Copyright Clearance Center, Inc., 222 Rosewood Drive, Danvers, MA 01923 U.S.A., www.copyright.com. Prior to photocopying items for educational classroom use, please contact Copyright Clearance Center, Inc. This consent does not extend to copyright items for general distribution or for advertising or promotional purposes or to republishing items in whole or in part in any work in any format. Requests for special photocopying permission and reprint requests should be directed to Director, Publications, The American Ceramic Society, 600 N. Cleveland Ave., Westerville, Ohio 43082 USA.

    Every effort has been made to ensure that all the information in this book is accurate. Due to differing conditions, equipment, tools, and individual skills, the publisher cannot be responsible for any injuries, losses, and other damages that may result from the use of the information in this book. Final determination of the suitability of any information, procedure or product for use contemplated by any user, and the manner of that use, is the sole responsibility of the user. This book is intended for informational purposes only.

    The views, opinions and findings contained in this book are those of the author. The publishers, editors, reviewers and author assume no responsibility or liability for errors or any consequences arising from the use of the information contained herein. Registered names and trademarks, etc., used in this publication, even without specific indication thereof, are not to be considered unprotected by the law. Mention of trade names of commercial products does not constitute endorsement or recommendation for use by the publishers, editors or authors.

    Publisher: Charles Spahr, Executive Director, The American Ceramic Society

    Art Book Program Manager: Bill Jones

    Editor: Elaine M. Levin

    Ebook Manager: Steve Hecker

    Graphic Design: Melissa Bury, Bury Design, Westerville, Ohio

    Graphic Production: David Houghton

    Cover Image: “Squared wheel-thrown bottle” by Marguerite Widenhain

  • v

    CONTENTS

    IntroductIon Elaine M. Levin’s recollection of past ceramics experiences .........................................vi

    Charles Binns and Adelaide Robineau ...........................................2

    Arthur Baggs and Glen Lukens .....................................................8

    Laura Andreson and Edwin and Mary Scheier ............................15

    Maija Grotell and Herbert Sanders ..............................................22

    Ralph Bacerra..............................................................................29

    Otto and Vivika Heino ...............................................................35

    Lukman Glasgow ........................................................................43

    Peter Voulkos ..............................................................................49

    Paul Soldner ................................................................................59

    Judy Chicago: The Dinner Party .................................................69

    Stephen DeStaebler .....................................................................73

    Juan Quezada ..............................................................................79

    An Interview with Otto Natzler ..................................................87

    Frans Wildenhain ........................................................................91

    Marilyn Levine ............................................................................99

    John Roloff ...............................................................................105

    Jerry Rothman ..........................................................................113

    Adrian Saxe ...............................................................................119

    The Legacy of Marguerite Wildenhain ......................................126

    Have Kiln Design, Will Travel ...................................................132

  • vi

    INTRODUCTION

    In the 1970s, I began teaching a course on American ceramic history at the extension division of the University of California, Los Angeles. I sent a notice concerning this course to Ceramics Monthly. They quickly wrote to me (no email then) suggesting I write a series of articles on those early twentieth century ceramists who laid the foundation for American studio ceramics. The research for those articles, the first four in this handbook, taught me about the dedicated people who created a craft history. After those articles were published, the maga- zine suggested I continue to write about those others contributing engaging work in ceramics. This book is a compilation of those articles, a reflection on those responsible for shaping American ceramics over the years.

    As strange as it may seem today, with the great variety of available informa- tion on ceramics, thirty years ago there were very few magazines and books about American ceramics. Yes, technical information was available but very little about

    how the craft developed. Also, what was published had been written years earlier. Charles Binns, Arthur Baggs, and Adelaide Robineau, ceramists discussed in the first two ar- ticles, truly pioneered both the technical and the aesthetic in ceramics. Binns, at Alfred University (New York) and Baggs at the Ohio State University, initiated an academic approach to education—a concept quite apart from the European apprentice system for crafts. Robineau, the first woman to boldly pursue learning to throw on the potter’s wheel (gen- erally discouraged by male throwers), helped transfer some potters from a reliance on factory throwers to establishing their own studios. Glen Lukens, Laura Andreson, Mary and Edwin Scheier, Maija Grotell, and Herbert Sanders continued the concept of educating ceramists in academia, in universities, and in art schools across the country. Grotell also represents the influx of European ceramists coming to America in the late 1930s and ‘40s, when the world was at war. Along with Grotell, who taught at the Cranbrook Academy of Art, Otto and Gertrud Natzler, Marguerite Wildenhain in California, and Frans Wildenhain in New York, all reinforced a European aesthetic that proclaimed work in clay as a fine art. This group brought attention to

    the lifestyle of the studio potter (continuing and reinforcing Robineau’s direction) and to the beauty of well-crafted functional ware with exciting surface enrich- ments. Early on, Otto Natzler viewed the action of the kiln as a tool capable of creating many different results from a single glaze. Frans Wildenhain’s sculptural forms and commissioned murals brought a concern for nature and the environ-

  • vii

    ment into ceramics and to his students at the Rochester Institute of Technology. Each of the mid-century American ceramists also contributed something

    unique to the field. Andreson introduced using porcelain clays and glazes; Sanders wrote about his experiments with a wide variety of glazes and, especially, modi- fications within crystalline glazes, providing technical information beyond the basics; the Scheiers were influenced by Mexican and South American ceramics, suggesting a greater world view; Lukens fearlessly saw the beauty in unglazed and heavily grogged clay at a time when the over-all glazed surface was ascendant.

    Vivika and Otto Heino began teaching and operating a studio on the East Coast, but they were most influential when they moved west. Vivika brought the much needed aesthetics and technology of Alfred University—a continuum of the Binns aesthetic—to the Los Angeles area. When Peter Voulkos and Paul Soldner arrived in Los Angeles to work at Otis College of Art and Design, they had the functional ceramics of Lukens, Andreson, and the Heinos to look to and to go beyond. There is little doubt that Voulkos’ and Soldner’s predecessors conferred a readi- ness on these men, and those they influenced, to proceed into the unknown.

    In the mid-1950s, Voulkos and Soldner, along with other ceramists in Southern