Exquisite Beauty is the first retrospective and publication to document the eye-dazzling ceramics created by Ralph Bacerra (1938–2008), a Los Angeles–based artist known for his innovative approach to surface embellishment. Curated by Jo Lauria, the exhibition features more than ninety of the artist’s finest pieces—dramatic, highly decorated vessels and sculptures that have never before been the focus of a major exhibition or publication. Bacerra’s career in ceramics spanned five decades, over the course of which his work moved stylistically from traditionalism to pattern and decoration to “post-baroque.” He was part of the group of second-generation post–World War II California artists who followed the boundary-expanding lead of Robert Arneson, Viola Frey, John Mason, Ken Price, and Peter Voulkos. These visionary artists sought to use clay in a way that responded to their time and place. Collectively they broadened the possibilities of the medium and brought recognition to the field.
Like those before him, Bacerra regularly challenged ceramic conventions, resolutely experimenting with unfamiliar materials and techniques in his studio. His unique contribution was the creation of a new “grammar of ornament” through the complex layering of aggregated design motifs, achieved primarily through multiple applications of underglazes and overglazes combined with metallic lusters. The resultant interweave generated a language rich in cross-cultural inflection and design schemes fluent in optically inventive patterns that played with perception and teased the eye.
In addition to achieving artistic excellence in the studio, Bacerra was a passionate and effective teacher in the classroom. He served as the head of ceramics at Chouinard from 1964 through 1971, when the school was formally absorbed by the California Institute of the Arts and the ceramics major eliminated from the curriculum. The second phase of Bacerra’s teaching career began in 1982 at the invitation of Otis Art Institute. The first year he taught part-time, leading classes in Surface Design and Glaze Technology. The following year he was appointed chair of ceramics with oversight of all aspects of the ceramics studio. He held the position for thirteen years, teaching a new generation of students the skills to become successful studio artists and educators. All who spent time in his classroom benefited from his technical expertise and keen design sensibility. Many former students from both Chouinard and Otis have ascended to prominence in the ceramics field and have contributed to its vitality.
Ralph Bacerra: Exquisite Beauty is funded in part by the National Endowment for the Arts, Pasadena Art Alliance, The Boardman Family Foundation, Friends of Contemporary Ceramics, The Japan Foundation, Los Angeles, and by the generosity of many individuals.
Exhibition Catalogue | $20 | Available on Amazon.com
Beautiful, fully illustrated catalogue featuring Introduction and Chronology by exhibition curator Jo Lauria; essays by Jeannine Falino, Hollis Goodall, Christy Johnson; and remembrances by Garth Clark, Elaine Levin, Frank Lloyd, Keith Miller, and Don Pilcher.
Softcover / 136 pages / 60 color plates / 10.25 x 12.25 inches | ISBN-13: 978-0-930209-41-4
Sat Sep 26, 4-6pm | Opening Reception | Ben Maltz Gallery | Free
Sun Sep 27, 2pm | Symposium: Centered on Clay | East Los Angeles College | Free
Symposium Speakers: Kathy Butterly, Yeonsoo Chee, Michael Sherrill, and Diego Romero. Held in conjunction with Vincent Price Art Museum, Otis College of Art and Design’s Ben Maltz Gallery, and East Los Angeles College’s Ceramics Program, Centered on Clay gathers contemporary artists and thinkers to present their work and voice their thoughts on the cultural importance of ceramics, highlighting the value of skilled execution. The program is funded in part by a grant from The Japan Foundation, Los Angeles.
Held in conjunction with Vincent Price Art Museum, Otis College of Art and Design’s Ben Maltz Gallery, and East Los Angeles College’s Ceramics Program. In conjunction with the exhibition Ralph Bacerra: Exquisite Beauty. The program is funded in part by a grant from The Japan Foundation, Los Angeles. - See more at: http://www.otis.edu/calendar/symposium-centered-clay#sthash.g6cXgKfo.dpu... on Clay gathers contemporary artists and thinkers to present their work and voice their thoughts on the cultural importance of ceramics, highlighting the value of skilled execution. Symposium Speakers: Kathy Butterly, Yeonsoo Chee, Michael Sherrill, and Diego Romero.
Concurrent Ceramics Exhibitions in Los Angeles
Kazunori Hamana, Yuji Ueda, Otani Workshop Sept 11-Oct 24, Blum and Poe. Curated by Takashi Murakami.
Jeff Blandford: Life Behind the Wheel Sept 12-Nov 15, American Museum of Ceramic Art (AMOCA).
RE-MADE: Contemporary Approaches to Factory Ceramics Aug 1-Dec 27, AMOCA.
Crossroads in Clay at Chouinard and Otis: The Ralph Bacerra Years, Sept 19-Dec 5, 2015, Vincent Price Art Museum. Curated by Christy Johnson. Featuring more than thirty former students of Ralph Bacerra.
Reshaping Tradition: Contemporary Ceramics from East Asia Sept 11, 2015-Jan 31, 2016, USC Asia Museum.
Power of Six Women in Art Aug 31-Oct 2, Seaver Art Gallery, Marlborough School. Sue Keane, Yumi Kiyose, Porntip Sangvanich, Naomi Schoenherr, Anna Silver, Joan Takayama-Ogawa. Curated by Porntip Sangvanich.
Otis Revisited Sept 3-Oct 8,West Los Angeles College Art Gallery. Curated by Robert Miller and Christy Johnson.
More about Ralph Bacerra
Visit the Ralph Bacerra Tribute Page to read more about Ralph and view the video Art is What I Do: The Life of Ralph Bacerra, a film by Jo Lauria, produced by The Boardman Family Foundation in cooperation with Otis.
Make your gift now to support the exhibition Ralph Bacerra: Exquisite Beauty and help ensure the artistic legacy of Ralph Bacerra.
Ralph Bacerra Through the Eyes of Otis Students
A new video produced by Otis Creative Action students is an aspirational story about the life of Ralph Bacerra, who inspired his students to live their dreams, become renowned artists, and pass their knowledge on to future generations.