Ralph Bacerra, Untitled Bowl, 2007
Exquisite Beauty: The Ceramics of Ralph Bacerra
September 26 – December 6, 2015
Exquisite Beauty is the first major exhibition and publication to survey and document the beautiful ceramic vessels and sculptures created by Ralph Bacerra. For more than fifty years, artist and ceramist Ralph Bacerra (1938-2008) consistently challenged and expanded upon ceramic traditions by appropriating cross-cultural influences and employing innovative techniques in his studio practices. Most notably, Bacerra’s contribution to the field was the development and contemporizing of the ancient skill of applying over-glaze enamels to achieve depth and richness of color and pattern. His virtuosic works demonstrate his mastery of materials, consummate craftsmanship, and his innate understanding of the holistic unity of form and surface design. By combining elaborate shapes with intricate, lavish surface decoration, Bacerra became the undisputed master of the ornamental, earning the distinction, conferred by ceramic historian Garth Clark as the “most extraordinary decorative potter of the last fifty years.”
Exquisite Beauty will include more than sixty of the greatest works of Ralph Bacerra’s long career, showcasing dramatic, highly decorated vessels and sculptures that have never before been highlighted in a major exhibition. These masterworks, along with a fully illustrated catalog, will bring into sharp focus the extraordinary creative vision of one of the key ceramic artists of our time whose oeuvre is deserving of wider recognition and appreciation.
In addition to achieving artistic excellence in the studio, Bacerra was a passionate and effective teacher in the classroom. Bacerra was head of the ceramics department at the Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles from 1963 to 1972 when the institute closed. He continued his teaching profession in Los Angeles at Otis School of Art (now Otis College of Art and Design) from 1983 through 1998. During that memorable year of 1998, Bacerra was granted the Outstanding Achievement award from the National Council on the Education of Ceramic Art and was appointed a fellow of the American Crafts Council in recognition of his exemplary body of work and his exceptional teaching career. Many of Bacerra’s former Chouinard and Otis students have risen to prominence and have become accomplished artists in the field, all benefiting from Bacerra’s technical virtuosity and keen design sensibility, and the appreciation of materials and skills that he passed on.
Curator: Jo Lauria, Independent Decorative Arts Curator and Scholar. Exhibition Designer: Michael Patrick Porter. Sponsors to date: Friends of Contemporary Ceramics, Lois Boardman Family Foundation, Joan Takayama-Ogawa, Sue Wilson Keanne, and Lin Werner.
This project is supported in part by the Pasadena Art Alliance
Make your gift now to support the exhibition Exquisite Beauty: The Ceramics of Ralph Bacerra and help ensure the artistic legacy of Ralph Bacerra.