Ken Price - Shape & Space: A New Ceramic Presence London Thursday, October 4, 2018 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Willard Gallery, New York
    Garth Clark Gallery, New York
    Acquired from the above by the present owner

  • Literature

    R. Clayton Baker, 'Ken Price at Castelli's', Ceramics Monthly, January 1984, pp. 46-47 (similar examples illustrated)
    Ken Price: Sculpture and Drawings 1962-2006, exh. cat., Matthew Marks Gallery, New York, 2006, p. 85 (a similar example illustrated)
    Stephanie Barron, Ken Price Sculpture: A Retrospective, exh. cat., Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 2012, pp. 100-01, 168, 237 (similar examples illustrated)
    Ken Price: A Survey of Sculptures and Drawings, exh. cat., Hauser & Wirth, London, 2017, pp. 42, 91 (similar examples illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    Ken Price was a potter before he became a sculptor. Born and raised in Los Angeles, California, he studied under Peter Voulkos at the Los Angeles County Art Institute (later Otis College of Art and Design) and went on to earn an MFA from the acclaimed ceramics program at the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University. Upon returning to Los Angeles in 1959, he was picked up by the Ferus Gallery, which, under the directorship of Irving Blum, exhibited Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns, and Frank Stella, among others. Success in the contemporary art world followed shortly thereafter: in 1962 he was included in Fifty California Artists: An Exhibition and in 1963 his sculpture Red was featured on the cover of Artforum. Price then went on to participate in the seminal exhibition American Sculpture of the Sixties at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 1967, a vast survey of new American sculpture that comprised works by eighty artists, among them John Chamberlain, Donald Judd, Sol LeWitt, and Robert Morris (a number of these artists would also go on to collect Price’s work).

    Edo, belongs to a series of sculptures that made their debut at Willard Gallery and Leo Castelli Gallery in New York in 1983. That year Price had relocated with his family to Massachusetts and embarked on a major new phase of his career, moving from glazed ceramics to fired and painted clay. Now fully detached from traditional ceramic techniques, he never looked back. As R. Clayton Baker observed in his review of the Castelli show for Ceramics Monthy, ‘Those looking for stunning ceramic technique won’t find it here, but these works do have a clear, color field/expressionist identity in a style which obviously appeals to the collector with an affinity for paint on canvas. These sculptures have as much relation to Mondrian as they do to Peter Voulkos’ (R. Clayton Baker, ‘Ken Price at Castelli’s’, Ceramics Monthly, January 1984, p. 46). His new technique involved priming his fired ceramic sculptures with over a dozen layers of acrylic paint in rich metallic hues. He created the rough edges, evocative of geological formations, by ripping off bits of drying clay. The Specimen Rocks, as the sculptures are known, are of a diminutive, hand-held scale. Price had custom vitrines made for each work, which only furthered their charm, elevating them like treasures in a curio cabinet. It was a sophisticated pun, burying clay under layers of acrylic paint, only to create sculptures that evoke the mineral composition of earth.



painted ceramic, maple, painted wood, and glass
ceramic: 11.2 x 10.8 x 11 cm (4 3/8 x 4 1/4 x 4 3/8 in.)
display box: 43.8 x 44.3 x 44.3 cm (17 1/4 x 17 1/2 x 17 1/2 in.)

Executed in 1983.

£150,000 - 200,000 

Contact Specialist
Meaghan Roddy
Senior International Specialist, Head of Sale
+1 267 221 9152 [email protected]

Henry Highley
Specialist, Head of Sale
+ 44 20 7318 4061 [email protected]

Shape & Space: A New Ceramic Presence

London Auction 5 October 2018