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Beatrice Wood

American
(1893–1998)

Vase
1980

Earthenware with luster glaze
3.125 x 2.75 x 2.75 in.
Gift of Nora Eccles Harrison
1984.1

Vase is the first artwork that the Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art acquiring into its collection.

A lover of chocolate and a lifelong romantic, Beatrice Wood created her own definition of ceramics, glaze and art. Born to a wealthy San Francisco family in 1893, Wood went to Paris at the age of 19, where she studied acting at the Comédie-Française and art at the prestigious Académie Julian.

Wood was first introduced to ceramics when she took an adult education course at Hollywood High School in an effort to create a teapot to match some luster-glaze plates she had bought in Holland. In 1948 Wood moved to Ojai, California, where she began to experiment with and produce iridescent luster surfaces that she became known for. Taking luster-glaze outside of its expected use for simple surface decoration, Wood’s bold use of luster, as in Vase, clearly moves the object away from the common idea of pottery, setting it to become an illustrious example of sensuous sculpture. Wood was a member of the New York Dada group and she collaborated with many artists including Marcel Duchamp. She worked and lived out of her studio in Ojai until her death at age 105.


Keywords
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This object has the following keywords:
  • gold
  • luster glaze - Thin metallic films that produce an iridescent effect on ceramics or glass. Luster glazes have been used since the 9th century in the Middle East ceramics. Spanish and Italian majolica pottery was produced by a multistep technique in which the metallic glaze was applied over a fired glaze then the ceramic was refired to adhere the two layers. The thin metallic layer is obtained with either reducing salts or a reducing atmosphere. By the 19th century, a single step technique was developed in England that produced an overall luster glaze. Various colors are obtained by the addition of minerals.
  • shiny
  • smooth
  • vase

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