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Richard Shaw

American, b. 1941

Still Life Jar with Green Apple


1999

Earthenware
14.25 x 10.25 x 9.8 in.
Gift of the artist
1998.46

Richard Shaw, a leading ceramics innovator for more than five decades, is a master of trompe-l’oeil (“fool the eye”) sculpture. Still Life Jar with Green Apple is an assemblage of everyday objects, including books with surfaces that feel like paper. Using white earthenware, he challenges the relationship between appearance and reality. He has 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; thus, he was surrounded by art from an early age. Set on becoming a painter, he 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 seriously began working with ceramics in 1963, 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 in New York, then returned to California to teach at SFAI from 1966 to 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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