Stoneware with grog and quartz
31 x 12 x 12 in. (78.74 x 30.48 x 30.48 cm)
Gift of the Marie Eccles Caine Foundation in honor of Billie Emert
John Mason’s Untitled is part of a larger exploration into the physical properties of stoneware that he engaged in for much of his career. His vertical sculptures were sequences of geometric shapes that he referred to as “spears.” In this piece a formal rhythm coheres through repeating twists and curves. Both smooth and rough, columnar and tilted, Mason’s Untitled extends the expressive possibilities of stoneware. Mason began making large-scale work while sharing a studio with Peter Voulkos, and was a key player in the Los Angeles abstract expressionist ceramics avant-garde that centered around Voulkos’s studio.
Born in Madrid, Nebraska, Mason began his education at the Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles. He left to work with Susan Peterson at Chouinard Art Institute, where he was her lab technician. A year later, in 1955, he returned to Otis to work alongside Voulkos, joining the cohort of ceramists who would redefine the field, including Paul Soldner, Ken Price, and Billy Al Bengston. Mason’s teaching career was wide-ranging. He taught at Pomona College in Claremont, California, and the University of California, Berkeley, before being hired by the newly established University of California, Irvine, in 19w67. In 1974, he left Irvine to replace Susan Peterson at Hunter College in New York.
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