Surrealism in American Ceramic Sculpture

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Surrealism is a movement which began in Europe in1924 when the Dada movement split. It has since spread around the world. The advent of post-modernism has not spellt the death-knell for this particular style -it is not only alive and well, but also flourishing in the world of ceramics and even has its influences in 'pottery'. This week we'll have a look at Fantastic, Surreal American Ceramic Sculpture.

Let's begin with Michael Lucero: Sculpture, -surreal, stunning, colorful ceramic sculpture. Often Lucero will work in series, such as the 'Dreamer Series', the, 'Pre-Columbus' or Reclamation Series. The Lucero site is elegantly and practilly designed making it fun to navigate. The viewer is presented with a diverse range of work which constitutes a good introduction to the work of the famous American artist.
Patrick Hilferty's Table Sculptures incorporate clay, wood and other materilas. Question: what's on the table, or rather under it? Hilferty's sculptures deconstruct the meaning of the table as he suspends cups and other ceramic objects between their legs. Clay slithers over the edge, like the beginning of some Niagra Falls, while boat-vessels balance on the edge of oblivion.
Peter Shrope's Mixed Media Sculptures are made from 'Baltimore Redclay' which the artist digs up in his own back yard. These sculptures resemble bandages soaked in clay and fired. They seem to have a volume, but are they meant to contain anything? Are they in a sense 'vessels'?
Peter Powning's Elemental Clay consists of a range of sculptures, some disc-like, with disintegrating edges, but embellished with gold leaf. Others, like the Lichen Reliquary or the Moonbeam Reliquary are reminiscent of artefacts from ancient cultures.
Ceramics by Bob Pulley consist of surreal body forms that combine references to the human figure with organic and geological forms, textures and colors.
'Non-functional functional ware' has a special place in the world of ceramics. It sits (perhaps sometimes uncomfortably) inbetween function and sculpture. John Britt's Dys-Functional Pottery is a happy adaptation of the two and could be classified as surreal non-functional vessels. Britt's dysfunctional teapots, cups, jars, unguent bottles and other work reflect a sense of understanding of the historical position of the vessel in society. By deconstructing the vessels objective of containing and incorporating surreal sculptural elements Britt creates some envigorating ceramic art.

As artists strive to find new and individual expression in their chosen medium, surrealist influences are sure to retain their importance in the post-modern world of contemporary American Ceramic Art.

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