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Richard Shaw

American, b. 1941

Still Life Jar with Green Apple

14.25 x 10.25 x 9.8 in.
Gift of the artist

Richard Shaw has been a leading ceramics innovator for over five decades and is the master of trompe-l’oeil (French for "fool the eye") sculpture. Still Life Jar with Green Apple is full of an astonishing array of everyday objects, including book surfaces that feel like paper. Using white earthenware, he captures the poetic and the surreal—making viewers question the relationship between appearances and reality. The bottom book cover is actually marbled with low fire underglaze. He said, “I try to stand back and be the absent arranger, creating a poem about a person using humor, irony, and elegance.”

Born in Los Angeles, Richard Shaw was the child of an artist mother and a Walt Disney cartoonist/animator father. Shaw was surrounded by art from a young age. Set on becoming a painter, Shaw briefly attended Orange Coast College, in Orange County, where he first began to work with clay. Shaw then attended the San Francisco Art Institute (SFAI) and in 1963 seriously began working with ceramics, citing professors Ron Nagle, Jim Melchert, Peter Voulkos, and John Mason (see their work in this exhibition) as inspiring figures. After completing his BFA at SFAI, he attended Alfred University, New York, and returned to California to teach at SFAI from 1966–1987. He studied with Robert Arneson (see Arneson’s 1978 Nose Brick) for his MFA in 1968 at University of California, Davis. Shaw was Professor of Ceramics at the University of California, Berkeley from 1987 to 2021.

Billie Sessions, PhD.

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