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Black Butte Divide, 1958

Peter Voulkos

American, 1924-2002
Fired clay
47-1/2 x 41 x 32 in. (120.7 x 104.1 x 81.3 cm)
Norton Simon Museum, Museum Purchase

On view

Anyone who has taken a ceramics class or is somewhat familiar with the process of making pottery will appreciate the technical and artistic innovations of Peter Voulkos (1924–2002). Far from a typical potter, Voulkos established his reputation in the 1950s by using clay to create monumental works that redefined the conventions of the medium. As founder of the Los Angeles County Art Institute’s ceramics program in 1954 and the program at University of California, Berkeley, in 1959, he also contributed to the rise of the West Coast as a major center for contemporary art.

The Museum recently installed Black Divide Butte, 1958, in the front sculpture garden. The piece consists of thrown forms joined together to create a massive and voluminous clay sculpture. Black Divide Butte was made in Voulkos’ studio on nearby Glendale Boulevard during an early experimental phase in his long artistic career, when he was most influenced by abstract expressionism. Although he continued to expand the formal boundaries that were possible with clay, Black Divide Butte remains a quintessential example of what made Voulkos the acknowledged leader of the ceramics revolution.

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Artist: Voulkos, Peter 1 of 2 Previous Previous | Next Next