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2007 "Ornament is a Crime: Architectural Pottery"   
2004 "Mid-Century Mandarin: the Clay Canvases of Tyrus Wong"  
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

     

MUSEUM OF CALIFORNIA DESIGN PRESENTED ITS EXHIBITION:

ORNAMENT IS A CRIME: ARCHITECTURAL POTTERY

AT PALM SPRINGS MODERNISM 2007

Click Here For Exhibition Photos

On February 16, 17 and 18, 2007, the Museum of California Design presented “Ornament is a Crime: The Classic Modernism of Architectural Pottery“ at Palm Springs Modernism 2007. This exhibition of 22 Modernist works by Architectural Pottery, the recipient of the Museum of California Design’s 2006 Henry Award for its contributions to American design, was curated by the museum’s director, Bill Stern. More than 3,000 people visited the exhibition during its three-day run at the Palm Springs Convention Center.

Whenever you see a tree or a plant in a white cylinder -- in a home or an office building or at a gasoline station -- it is because of Architectural Pottery. When the company’s designers introduced their large format undecorated ceramic vessels in 1950 -- vessels equally suited for home interiors and patios, as well as commercial buildings - they helped fulfill one of the major goals of Mid-century Modern architecture, breaking down the distinction between interior and exterior space.

Architectural Pottery was founded in Los Angeles in 1950 by Max and Rita Lawrence, John Folis and Rex Goode after the Lawrences, who lived in Gregory Ain’s famed indoor/outdoor Dunsmuir Apartments, saw large-scale modernist ceramic planters and sand jars designed by LaGardo Tackett and his students, among them Folis, Goode, Douglas Deeds, and Lawrence Halperin at the California School of Art in Hollywood.

In addition to revolutionary planters/sand jars, “ORNAMENT IS A CRIME“ will include Malcolm Leland’s iconic bird shelter and Gordon Newell’s Matisse-inspired birdbath and. The other designers represented in the show will be Marilyn Kay Austin, Raul Coronel, David Cressey, John Folis and Mr.Tackett.

“Ornament Is A Crime,” the dictum of Modernism, was formulated by the Czech architect Adolf Loos in 1922. This phrase sums up the belief of strict Modernists that design should include only those elements essential to the structural composition of an object or a building. And though the strictest of Modernists contend that color is ornament, such eminent practioners of the style as Charles and Ray Eames and George Nelson made color an essential part of their designs.

Current production Architectural Pottery pieces by Vessel USA - both white and colored -- are available for purchase through the Museum of California Design’s on-line DESiGN STORE at www.mocad.org.

“Ornament Is A Crime” was made possible through the lead sponsorship of deasy/penner&partners, Beverly Hills & Palm Springs; Pacific Union, Palm Springs; and Wright, Chicago, with additional sponsorship from Fat Chance, Los Angeles; Reform Gallery, Los Angeles; and Dolphin Promotions, Inc., Chicago

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Garden fountains/sculptures,
c.1950 LaGardo Tackett,
Architectural Pottery,
earthenware
Collection Museum of California Design
Photograph: Bob Lopez

Sand Jar / Jardiniere, c.1963
Marilyn Kay Austin,
Architectural Pottery earthenware
Photograph: Lorca Cohen

 


Architectural Pottery Catalog 64, 1964
Collection: Museum of California Design

Photograph: Uncredited

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MUSEUM OF CALIFORNIA DESIGN PRESENTED ITS EXHIBITION:

MID-CENTURY MANDARIN: THE CLAY CANVASES OF TYRUS WONG

AT CRAFT AND FOLK ART MUSEUM JULY 14 - OCTOBER 31, 2004


sd

 

  Lobster
   Mark: Winfield Pottery
   Plate modified by Tyrus Wong
   Porcelain, 17" diameter, c. 1945
   Collection of Tyrus Wong
   Photograph by Peter Brenner
 
 

fgG Paintings by the Chinese-American artist Tyrus Wong have been exhibited at the Pasadena Art Institute, the Los Angeles Museum of Art (now the Los Angeles County Museum of Art) and the Art Institute of Chicago. In 1939, he won the Los Angeles Art Association’s first-prize purchase award judged by two of California’s most respected artists, Stanton Macdonald-Wright and Lorser Feitelson.

This is the first exhibition of the paintings Wong produced for the Winfield Pottery of Pasadena between about 1944 and 1950. His canvases were 48 plates, bowls and a teapot designed by Margaret Mears Gabriel (1888-1987), which were made in molds for nation-wide distribution. Pablo Picasso, Roy Lichtenstein, Keith Haring, Andy Warhol and Ed Moses are among the artists who have created decorations for commercial ceramics, but Wong is apparently the only one to have decorated them entirely by his own hand: the other artists either produced paintings for staff decorators to copy or line drawings that could be applied as transfers. Thus this aspect of Wong’s oeuvre seems to occupy a unique place in the continuum between studio and commercial ceramics. 

Wong has lived in Los Angeles since coming to the United States from Guangzhou (Canton), China, in 1919. In 1938 he created the scenic look for the Walt Disney Company’s film "Bambi." And, for Warner Bros., "Rebel Without a Cause," "Around the World in 80 Days" and "The Wild Bunch." While at Warner Bros. in the 1940s he worked at the Winfield Pottery evenings and Saturdays. Winfield sold Wong’s original artworks on porcelain at prominent department stores across the country -- including Bullocks Wilshire in Los Angeles, Neiman Marcus in Dallas and Marshall Field in Chicago. Wong also painted images for himself, his family and friends.

The exhibition consists of two sections: pieces Wong painted for commercial distribution and those he did for himself and friends. The commercial pieces include traditional subjects done in the monochromatic black ink style of painting that developed in China’s Sung Period (960-1279 AD), notably a series of horses in motion. Among the personal images are whimsical children’s subjects.

This is the first time that these works have been assembled in one place. Wong himself was very surprised by the display: "I’d certainly never seen them all together before," he said. Then he added, "It’s been so long [more than half a century], that I don’t even remember doing some of them."

 

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