Peter Voulkos

August 22, 2011

American artist of Greek decent, Peter Voulkos (1924-2002) is well known for his abstract expressionist styled ceramics sculptures. Entrapped in the process of clay-making, Voulkos developed works not with the traditional craft foundation of ceramics, but rather in an experimental way that lead him to treat the medium as pure sculpture. The highly-charged era gave Voulkos the surge to be dynamic and create by doing, to embrace the ‘charm’ of accidents, and to allow the immediate to occur. The abstract expressionistic nature of Voulkos’ creations began after he attended the Black Mountain College in Ashville, NC in 1953, and that summer when he lived in New York City and met Franz Klein and William de Kooning. In New York City Voulkos was in the middle of an artist explosion, exposed to the New York School action painting and abstract expressionism. In 1954 Voulkos moved to Los Angeles, where he set up a ceramics department at Otis College. As a teacher he didn’t lecture or instruct. He just worked. Influenced by Picasso, Japanese Raku pottery, and the American “action” school of art, Voulkos allowed the expressionistic nature of the clay to come to life as he created quickly to stimulate new ideas, just like his contemporaries of the time, Klein and de Kooning, who were similarly embracing spontaneity as a force in paintings and other mediums.

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