"My primary satisfaction comes from making the work, and my idea of success is getting it to look right." —Ken Price
With iridescent, cascading folds in hues of blue and teal, Kenneth Price’s Morey, 2005, is a stunning ode to the artist’s youth and days spent surfing Southern California’s beaches. Price became famous in the early 1960s when he had his first solo exhibition at the legendary Ferus Gallery, which also showed fellow artists Larry Bell and Ed Ruscha. Price had just returned to Los Angeles from New York state, where he had completed an MFA in ceramics from Alfred University.
The evocative surface of Morey was created through a unique technique invented by Price. He would painstakingly apply layer after layer of acrylic paint of as many as fifteen colors until he reached his desired effect. And it is indeed this echo of the bluish-green waters, foaming, bustling, rising, and crashing, that the artist so delicately achieves through this iconic painted clay sculpture.
It is this technique that would become the artist’s best known and most celebrated attainment. As New York Times art critic Roberta Smith noted, “Mr. Price’s greatest achievement may have been to help foment a revolution in ceramics that was in many ways the true genesis of the Southern California art scene… he insisted on ceramics as high art — an argument that Mr. Price, a man of few but well-chosen words, left to his sculptures to articulate.”i
A quintessential example of the artist’s best-known sculptures of biomorphic shapes and vibrant colors is Morey, which may have been inspired and named for Price’s close friend and fellow avid surfer – Tom Morey. Price met Morey in the early 1960s on a Malibu beach. Morey, who would in time become the famed inventor of the bodyboard, upon first meeting Price, later recalled: “someone said, "Hey, there goes Green Water!" "So what? Who the… is Green Water?" - "Kenny Price, that's who!" - "Why do they call him 'Green Water'?" "Just watch. See... he's stalling. Stalling and stalling, waiting for the wave to get just right, then, VIP!... and he'll scamper to the nose for a tip ride.”ii
i Roberta Smith, Ken Price, Sculptor Whose Artworks Helped Elevate Ceramics, Dies at 77, The New York Times, February 24, 2012, online.
ii Tom Morey, Tom Morey remembers Malibu surfer Kenny Price, Surfers Village, April 13, 2012, online.
Peter Fischli and David Weiss