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Nils Lou

American
(1932–2013)

Pygmalion II
1987

Porcelain
19 x 8.75 x 6.5 in.
Gift of the Nora Eccles Treadwell Foundation
1987.55

Nils Lou’s Pygmalion II could be interpreted as the celebration of the artist’s love for the malleability of clay. This slab-built porcelain vessel has been stamped and impressed with a variety of textures, speaking to the spontaneity and playfulness with which Lou approached his work. The irregularity of the surface, left unglazed, interacts with the ash and flame of the wood kiln, accentuating the marks, ripples, and protrusions with light dustings of toasty oranges, blushing pinks, and neutral grays.

Born in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1932, Nils Lou was a driving force in the development of the wood-firing community in Oregon. The son of Danish immigrants, Lou was a multifaceted artist, working in clay, painting, and sculpture, while also designing and building wood kilns across the United States and writing several books on the subject of firing and making pottery. Lou’s academic and professional training spanned the globe, including service in the United States Air Force as a captain and senior navigator from 1954 to 1959. He taught at several universities and frequently led large communal firings at the well-known East Creek anagama kiln. Even in his later years, Nils relentlessly explored the possibilities of clay and was a proponent of the belief that “play is an essential part of being creative.”

Ayla Murray


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