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Although critically lauded within the studio-craft movement, many ceramic pieces are only now coming to be recognized as important and integral contributions to the broader history of modern and contemporary art, note the exhibit organizers. The Yale show juxtaposes objects from the Schlenger collection with celebrated paintings, sculptures, and works on paper from the gallery’s permanent collection in order to highlight the formal, historical, and theoretical affinities among the works on view.
The effort to integrate ceramics more fully into the history of art is the result of recent shifts in approaches to both making and exhibiting artworks, explains doctoral student Sequoia Miller, a graduate research assistant in the Department of American Decorative Arts and co-curator of the exhibition.
In the last decade, ceramics have become commonplace in contemporary art, and ceramic artists such as John Mason, Kenneth Price, and Peter Voulkos have gained renown among wide public audiences. These developments have grown out of a larger dissolution of boundaries and hierarchies in the visual arts, where artists bear less allegiance to any particular historical medium or tradition, opting instead to use whatever materials best suit their ideas at a given moment, explains Miller. Museums have followed this lead by beginning to incorporate a wider range of artworks and disciplines into both permanent-collection installations and special exhibitions.