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Antonio Prieto

Spanish
(1912–1967)

Bottle
circa 1960

Stoneware
12 x 7 x 7 in.
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Willard L. Eccles
1984.521

Antonio Prieto was one of the most respected teaching potters of the 1960s. This golden narrow-necked bottle is an icon in the ‘Tony’ Prieto oeuvre. Prieto was particularly known for his clean modernist vases sparingly incised with rows of dancing linework and much in keeping with the midcentury influence of Picasso. It is reported that Peter Voulkos was influenced by Prieto for his large narrow-necked bottles like this. Prieto’s heritage drew him to both contemporary Spanish and folk potters of Spain who continued age-old traditions. He said, “I prefer the kind of freshness, spontaneity and control that comes with knowledge and understanding.”

Prieto immigrated to the United States as a child in 1916. He enrolled in a fine arts school in San Francisco before serving in the Army during WWII. When the war ended, Alfred University (known for their ceramics program) in Alfred, New York accepted him without formal training in ceramics. After two years at Alfred, Tony accepted a ceramics teaching position at California College of Arts and Crafts (now CCA) replacing Marguerite Wildenhain. In 1950, he followed Carlton Ball as head of the ceramics program at Mills College in Oakland. He successfully linked the formal traditions of Alfred with the explosion of self-expression in clay that followed WWII. He taught at Mills until his death in 1967.

Billie Sessions, PhD.


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