Doyle Lane - Design New York Wednesday, June 9, 2021 | Phillips

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  • Exhibited

    "Doyle Lane: Weed Pots," David Kordansky Gallery, Los Angeles, July 22-August 29, 2020

  • Literature

    California Black Craftsmen, exh. cat., Mills College Art Gallery, Oakland, 1970, p. 14 for a similar example

  • Catalogue Essay

    With training from California ceramic luminaries Glen Lukens, F. Carlton Ball and Vivika Heino, and a background as a glaze technician for a chemical supply company, Doyle Lane developed a career as a working studio ceramist in Los Angeles in the middle of the 20th century. Among the hallmarks of his œuvre are his weed pots. The present example, relatively large for this miniaturized body of work, exhibits Lane’s technical mastery of the crawling thick glaze and tightly designed compact form. Lane’s weed pots were often displayed in groupings, the range of scale and colors a visual delight for collectors, and, as with the present lot, individually commanding enough on their own.

    Like his contemporaries, Lane mastered traditional ceramic forms, and as his career progressed, he inched ever further away from aligning ceramics with functionality. He experimented with glazes and earned success in creating large-scale architectural installations of ceramic tiles. Eventually he would go on to make what he called “clay paintings,” clay slabs applied with glaze and fired at high temperatures to produce vibrant colors. It was these “clay paintings” that caught the attention of Objects:USA curators Lee Nordness and Paul J. Smith, who included Lane’s work in their 1969 exhibition, arguably the most important in American studio craft history.

    Though Lane was able to make a living as a ceramist, his career trajectory as a Black ceramic artist was markedly different from that of his peers. While his contemporaries—among them Peter Voulkos, John Mason, and Ken Price (who had been a classmate of his)—showed at Ferus Gallery or had solo exhibitions at The Museum of Modern Art, Lane’s exhibition opportunities largely languished in the group shows collected in the back pages of Craft Horizons magazine. Lane sold his pots at local craft shows and sometimes by going door-to-door to houses in wealthy Los Angeles neighborhoods. Few galleries in Los Angeles were willing or interested in showing the work of Black artists, and Lane was lucky to have made a connection to two forward-thinking galleries: Ankrum Gallery on La Cienega Boulevard, founded in 1960 by actors Joan Wheeler Ankrum and William Challee, and among the earliest to show work by Black artists, and Brockman Gallery in Leimert Park, founded in 1967 by brothers Dale and Alonzo Davis, that became central to the Black artist community through 1990. Advertisements for Brockman Gallery in the 1960s and 1970s reveal Lane as one of only two ceramists (co-owner Dale Davis being the other) showing alongside Black painters and multi-media artists like David Hammons, John Outterbridge and Timothy Washington in group shows, and among a group of artists called the Black Artists Association. Doyle Lane and the Black Artists Association would also exhibit at Galleria del Sol, the Santa Barbara gallery founded by Betty and Stanley Sheinbaum, whose collection, notably Voulkos’s Rondena sculpture, was sold at Phillips in 2017.

    Lane continued making work and exhibiting locally into the 1980s. Examples of Doyle Lane’s work are held in the permanent collections of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, and the California African American Museum, where his archives are held. Until recently, works by Lane existed on the secondary market almost exclusively in California – in regional auction houses, and championed by local galleries and the California craft cognoscenti. We are thrilled at the opportunity to share the story of Doyle Lane with our global audience and offer his work at Phillips for the first time.


Weed pot

circa 1960
Glazed ceramic.
3 3/4 in. (9.5 cm) high
Underside incised LANE.

$6,000 - 8,000 

Sold for $22,680

Contact Specialist

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New York Auction 9 June 2021