Ken Price - Design New York Wednesday, December 7, 2022 | Phillips

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  • Ken Price created Siren during a pivotal moment in his career, when he ceased glazing and turned entirely to acrylic paints for the decoration of his ceramic sculptures. The idea of using clay as a medium for sculptural expression, as opposed to functional wares, had begun decades earlier when Price had the opportunity to study with Peter Voulkos at the Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles in 1957. Yet while Voulkos created large-scale, expressionist clay sculptures, Price worked a much more intimate scale, creating exquisitely crafted sculptures that could be held and turned in one’s hands. Like a scholar’s rock, or an item from a curio cabinet, Siren may be appreciated from all sides, with rough textures painted in metallics colliding with smooth surfaces covered in rich red and pink jewel tones. 

    “You can see the whole piece and all of its surface detail in one glance. So it’s very easy to visualize those pieces as being any size, especially monumental.”
    —Ken Price, describing his Specimen Rock series

    While Siren and the other Specimen Rock sculptures Ken Price created in the mid-1980s may appear idiosyncratic, they also relate, on an entirely reverse scale, to his contemporaries in the Earthworks movement, such as Michael Heizer and James Turrell, who similarly explored the juxtaposition of smooth and rough surfaces in their monumental site-specific interventions on the Western landscape.  

    • Provenance

      Franklin Parrasch Gallery, New York
      Acquired from the above by the present owner, 2002

Property from a Private Collection, Philadelphia



Glazed and painted ceramic.
3 3/4 x 6 x 3 1/4 in. (9.5 x 15.2 x 8.3 cm)

Full Cataloguing

$50,000 - 70,000 

Contact Specialist

Benjamin Green
Associate Specialist

Associate Head of Sale
+1 917 207 9090



New York Auction 7 December 2022