A Rare & Early Work by Ken Price
From the Collection of Peter Voulkos
This work originates from the one year in which Ken Price studied under Peter Voulkos at the Otis College of Art and Design and it was in Voulkos’ personal collection for many years. Voulkos had an enormous influence not only on Price, but on an entire generation of ceramic artists; many imitated Voulkos’ rough, earthy style, while others consciously created outside of his towering presence. The present lot illustrates the complex, tender nature of the student-mentor relationship, as well as the process of a young artist finding his distinctive style.
The present lot illustrates the complex, tender nature of the student-mentor relationship, as well as the process of a young artist finding his distinctive style.
Price characterized Voulkos’ methods as a “direct frontal onslaught.” While this work is far from that, it is much more totemic and outward-facing than the hushed, mysterious interiority of Price’s mature work. Voulkos’ influence is evident throughout this piece—raw clay shows through thin, earth-toned glazes, incised lines impart a direct, hand-worked quality and the ungainly, organic intuition for form that Voulkos is celebrated for is felt. Hallmarks of Price’s style emerge though; building form through color is paramount for Price and it is present in this work, just as much as it is in his acid-trip geological excavations and bright, biomorphic slimes from the decades to come. Also in this piece is the self-contained eccentricity Price’s work is known for—the blocks of color seem to be in conversation with each other, set apart from the world and its mundanities, and inviting you to join the curious territory it inhabits. One can imagine that Voulkos was fond of this particular work, seeing in it his monumental contributions to ceramics, as well as the burgeoning voice of an artist who would himself become one of the visionaries of the medium.