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Magdalena Suarez Frimkess

Venezuelan, b. 1929

Michael Frimkess

American, b. 1937

Mickey Mouse

13.5 x 8.2 x 8.2 in.
Gift of the Nora Eccles Treadwell Foundation

Few potters have explored the overlap between ceramics and popular culture as have the husband-and-wife duo Michael Frimkess and Magdelena Suarez Frimkess. In Mickey Mouse, a classical ceramic form is covered with decoration depicting iconic cartoon imagery. The combination of mass media with traditional vessel shapes points to the variety of influences that go into the melting pot of American culture. In his search for the perfect vessel, Michael Frimkess adopted ceramic forms from Greek, Native American, Chinese, and Peruvian traditions. These forms acted as a base for Magdalena’s surface painting, which combines her perspective as a Venezuelan immigrant with a critical view of globalized American mass media.

Magdelena Suarez was born in Caracas, Venezuela, in 1929. She trained in painting at the School of Plastic Arts in Venezuela, and later attended the Pontifical Catholic University in Santiago, Chile, to study sculpture and painting. In 1963, she was offered a fellowship at the Clay Art Center in New York City, where she met Michael Frimkess. They married and began a lifelong collaboration, establishing a studio together in Venice, California. Michael Frimkess was born into a Jewish family in Los Angeles, California, in 1937. He studied with Peter Voulkos at Otis College of Art and Design and the University of California, Berkeley, and was a key member of the cohort of young ceramists in Voulkos’s circle, including Ken Price, John Mason, and Billy Al Bengston.

Matthew Limb

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