Catalogue with essay by Carter Ratcliff; lecture by the artist
“The refined exuberance of Ken Price’s wit encourages speculation. Following the trail of his allusions and reminiscences, I find myself wandering from one twentieth-century style to the next – from abstract expressionism to minimalism to biomorphic surrealism and onward, until I have left our century all together.”
— Excerpt from “Ken Price: Reinvention and Renewal” by Carter Ratcliff.
Ghost, 1984, painted ceramic, 4 1/2” x 4 1/2” x 5,” Collection of Howard and Judie Ganek.
Ken Price is one of the most important sculptors to have emerged in California since 1945. Using glazed and painted clay as his primary medium, Price is renowned for producing works of unsettling beauty and startling coloration, at once jazzy and enigmatic. Small in scale, his dysfunctional variations on traditional, utilitarian forms—in particular the mug—incorporate a wide range of formal references. Well-versed in the logic of geometric abstraction, surrealism, and early abstract expressionism, Price weds these major movements of the 20th century with a geological morphology to generate a complex lexicon of modern culture and archetypal mysteries.
Born in Los Angeles in 1935, Price received his B.F.A. from the University of Southern California in 1956. From 1955 to 1956 he studied with Peter Voulkos, during which time he came into contact with other artists from the nascent sixties’ Los Angeles art scene. Price then went on to receive his M.F.A. from the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred in 1958. The Menil Collection in Houston organized a major retrospective of his work in 1992 that traveled to the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis. The exhibition at Beaver College Art Gallery featured fifteen works that represent key moments in the artist’s oeuvre.