Peter Voulkos

Peter Voulkos

Overview

Peter Voulkos popular name of Panagiotis Voulkos, was an American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 artist of Greek
Greeks
The Greeks, also known as the Hellenes , are a nation and ethnic group native to Greece, Cyprus and neighboring regions. They also form a significant diaspora, with Greek communities established around the world....

 descent. He is known for his Abstract Expressionist ceramic sculptures, which crossed the traditional divide between ceramic crafts and fine art
Fine art
Fine art or the fine arts encompass art forms developed primarily for aesthetics and/or concept rather than practical application. Art is often a synonym for fine art, as employed in the term "art gallery"....

.

Born as Panagiotis Harry Voulkos, the third of five children to Greek
Greeks
The Greeks, also known as the Hellenes , are a nation and ethnic group native to Greece, Cyprus and neighboring regions. They also form a significant diaspora, with Greek communities established around the world....

 immigrant parents Aristovoulos I. Voulkopoulos, anglicized and shortened to Harry (Aris) John Voulkos and Effrosyni (Efrosine) Peter Voulalas, in Bozeman, Montana
Bozeman, Montana
Bozeman is a city in and the county seat of Gallatin County, Montana, United States, in the southwestern part of the state. The 2010 census put Bozeman's population at 37,280 making it the fourth largest city in the state. It is the principal city of the Bozeman micropolitan area, which consists...

.
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Peter Voulkos popular name of Panagiotis Voulkos, was an American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 artist of Greek
Greeks
The Greeks, also known as the Hellenes , are a nation and ethnic group native to Greece, Cyprus and neighboring regions. They also form a significant diaspora, with Greek communities established around the world....

 descent. He is known for his Abstract Expressionist ceramic sculptures, which crossed the traditional divide between ceramic crafts and fine art
Fine art
Fine art or the fine arts encompass art forms developed primarily for aesthetics and/or concept rather than practical application. Art is often a synonym for fine art, as employed in the term "art gallery"....

.

Born as Panagiotis Harry Voulkos, the third of five children to Greek
Greeks
The Greeks, also known as the Hellenes , are a nation and ethnic group native to Greece, Cyprus and neighboring regions. They also form a significant diaspora, with Greek communities established around the world....

 immigrant parents Aristovoulos I. Voulkopoulos, anglicized and shortened to Harry (Aris) John Voulkos and Effrosyni (Efrosine) Peter Voulalas, in Bozeman, Montana
Bozeman, Montana
Bozeman is a city in and the county seat of Gallatin County, Montana, United States, in the southwestern part of the state. The 2010 census put Bozeman's population at 37,280 making it the fourth largest city in the state. It is the principal city of the Bozeman micropolitan area, which consists...

. He first studied painting and ceramics at Montana State University
Montana State University - Bozeman
Montana State University – Bozeman is a public university located in Bozeman, Montana. It is the state's land-grant university and primary campus in the Montana State University System, which is part of the Montana University System...

 (then Montana State College) in Bozeman, then earned an MFA
Master of Fine Arts
A Master of Fine Arts is a graduate degree typically requiring 2–3 years of postgraduate study beyond the bachelor's degree , although the term of study will vary by country or by university. The MFA is usually awarded in visual arts, creative writing, filmmaking, dance, or theatre/performing arts...

 degree from the California College of the Arts
California College of the Arts
California College of the Arts , founded in 1907, is known for its broad, interdisciplinary programs in art, design, architecture, and writing. It has two campuses, one in Oakland and one in San Francisco, California, USA...

. He began his career producing functional dinnerware in Bozeman, Montana
Bozeman, Montana
Bozeman is a city in and the county seat of Gallatin County, Montana, United States, in the southwestern part of the state. The 2010 census put Bozeman's population at 37,280 making it the fourth largest city in the state. It is the principal city of the Bozeman micropolitan area, which consists...

. His talent was quickly recognized and he soon began winning prizes. In 1953, Voulkos was invited to teach a summer session ceramics course at Black Mountain College
Black Mountain College
Black Mountain College, a school founded in 1933 in Black Mountain, North Carolina, was a new kind of college in the United States in which the study of art was seen to be central to a liberal arts education, and in which John Dewey's principles of education played a major role...

 in Asheville, North Carolina
Asheville, North Carolina
Asheville is a city in and the county seat of Buncombe County, North Carolina, United States. It is the largest city in Western North Carolina, and the 11th largest city in North Carolina. The City is home to the United States National Climatic Data Center , which is the world's largest active...

. In 1954, after founding the art ceramics department at the Otis College of Art and Design
Otis College of Art and Design
Otis College of Art and Design is an art and design college in Los Angeles, California.The school's programs, accredited by WASC and National Association of Schools of Art and Design, include four-year BFA degrees in illustration, fine arts, graphic design, architecture, landscape design, interior...

 (then called the Los Angeles County Art Institute), his work rapidly became abstract and sculptural. He moved to the University of California, Berkeley
University of California, Berkeley
The University of California, Berkeley , is a teaching and research university established in 1868 and located in Berkeley, California, USA...

, where he also founded the art ceramics department, and where he taught from 1959 until 1985. Among his students were many ceramic artists who became well known in their own right.


In 1951 Peter Voulkos and Rudy Autio
Rudy Autio
Rudy Autio was an American sculptor, best known for his figurative ceramic vessels.Rudio Autio was born Arne Rudolph Autio to a family of Finnish immigrants in Butte, Montana. As a child, he first learned to draw by taking evening classes from Works Progress Administration artists working in Butte...

 became the Archie Bray Foundation's first resident artists. Frances Senska
Frances Senska
Frances Maude Senska was an art professor and artist specializing in ceramics who taught at Montana State University – Bozeman from 1946 to 1973. She was known as the "grandmother of ceramics in Montana"...

 taught both of them. Located in Helena, Montana (USA) the Archie Bray Foundation's role in America becoming the dominant force in ceramics worldwide during the second half of the 20th century can not be overstated. It was during his time there (Resident Director 1951-54) that the lineage of the work that was later in full bloom while working at the Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles, California (USA) could be easily traced. And if the Bray (as its known in more intimate ceramic circles) was the incubator of such transgressive creations, Voulkos was arguably its first true star child. (Held, Peter et al. (2001) 'A Ceramic Continuum: Fifty Years of the Archie Bray Influence', University of Washington Press, Holter Museum of Art.)

Voulkos' sculptures are famous for their visual weight, their freely-formed construction, and their aggressive and energetic decoration. He would vigorously tear, pound, and gouge the surfaces of his pieces. At some points in his career, he cast his sculptures in bronze; in other periods his ceramic works were glazed or painted, and he finished them with painted brushstrokes. He bought some of his metal from Sidney Levinson. In 1979 he was introduced to the use of wood kilns by Peter Callas; much of his late work is wood-fired.
Peter Voulkos loved working with an audience. He died of an apparent heart attack
Myocardial infarction
Myocardial infarction or acute myocardial infarction , commonly known as a heart attack, results from the interruption of blood supply to a part of the heart, causing heart cells to die...

 on February 16, 2002 after conducting a college ceramics workshop at Bowling Green State University
Bowling Green State University
Bowling Green State University, often referred to as Bowling Green or BGSU, is a public, coeducational research university located in Bowling Green, Ohio, United States. The institution was granted a charter in 1910 by the State of Ohio as part of the Lowry Bill, which also established Kent State...

, Ohio
Ohio
Ohio is a Midwestern state in the United States. The 34th largest state by area in the U.S.,it is the 7th‑most populous with over 11.5 million residents, containing several major American cities and seven metropolitan areas with populations of 500,000 or more.The state's capital is Columbus...

, demonstrating his skill to live audience. He was 78.

Voulkos is survived by his first wife, Peggy, and their daughter, Pier; his wife, Ann, and their son, Aris (Aristovoulos after his grandfather); a brother, John, and two sisters, Mary and Margaret.

Voulkos' work is found in museums around the world, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art
Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Metropolitan Museum of Art is a renowned art museum in New York City. Its permanent collection contains more than two million works, divided into nineteen curatorial departments. The main building, located on the eastern edge of Central Park along Manhattan's Museum Mile, is one of the...

 and the Museum of Modern Art
Museum of Modern Art
The Museum of Modern Art is an art museum in Midtown Manhattan in New York City, on 53rd Street, between Fifth and Sixth Avenues. It has been important in developing and collecting modernist art, and is often identified as the most influential museum of modern art in the world...

, in New York; Charles Cowles Gallery
Charles Cowles Gallery
Charles Cowles is an American art dealer and a collector of contemporary art. Cowles was also a curator of Fine Art at the Seattle Art Museum from 1975 until 1979....

 in New York, the Philadelphia Museum of Art
Philadelphia Museum of Art
The Philadelphia Museum of Art is among the largest art museums in the United States. It is located at the west end of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia's Fairmount Park. The Museum was established in 1876 in conjunction with the Centennial Exposition of the same year...

; the Smithsonian Institution
Smithsonian Institution
The Smithsonian Institution is an educational and research institute and associated museum complex, administered and funded by the government of the United States and by funds from its endowment, contributions, and profits from its retail operations, concessions, licensing activities, and magazines...

, in Washington, DC; the Stedelijk
Stedelijk Museum
Founded in 1874, the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam is a museum for classic modern and contemporary art in Amsterdam in the Netherlands. It has been housed on the Paulus Potterstraat, next to Museum Square Museumplein and to the Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum and the Concertgebouw, in Amsterdam Zuid...

 Museums in Amsterdam and Eindhoven; the Tokyo Folk Art Museum and the Kyoto National Museum
Kyoto National Museum
The is one of the three formerly imperially-mandated art museums in Japan. The museum is located in Higashiyama Ward in Kyoto. The collections of the Kyoto National Museum focus on pre-modern Japanese and Asian art....

 of Modern Art in Japan; the National Gallery
National Gallery of Victoria
The National Gallery of Victoria is an art gallery and museum in Melbourne, Australia. Founded in 1861, it is the oldest and the largest public art gallery in Australia. Since December 2003, NGV has operated across two sites...

, in Melbourne, Australia; the University of Iowa Museum of Art
University of Iowa Museum of Art
The University of Iowa Museum of Art is a visual arts institution that is part of the University of Iowa in Iowa City, Iowa, USA.-Introduction:The University of Iowa Museum of Art, established in 1969, has one of the top university art collections in the country...

; the Oakland Museum of California
Oakland Museum of California
Oakland Museum of California or Oakland Museum is a museum dedicated to the art, history, and natural science of California located in Oakland, California....

; and the Victoria and Albert Museum
Victoria and Albert Museum
The Victoria and Albert Museum , set in the Brompton district of The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, London, England, is the world's largest museum of decorative arts and design, housing a permanent collection of over 4.5 million objects...

, in London.

Sources

  • Smith, Roberta. Peter Voulkos, 78, A Master of Expressive Ceramics, Dies, New York Times, Feb. 21, 2002, p. B9.
  • Biography.com Peter Voulkos Biography (1924–2002) (Retrieved 2006-10-30)
  • artnet.com (2006) Peter Voulkos: Chronology, artnet Worldwide Corporation, New York, NY (Retrieved 2006-10-30)
  • Peter Selz (June 2002) In Memoriam, California Alumni Association, Berkeley (Retrieved 2006-10-30)
  • Scott Savitt (Feb. 2002) Obituary, The Berkeleyan Online, UC Berkeley’s Office of Public Affairs, The Regents of the University of California (Retrieved 2006-10-30)

Further reading

  • Rhodes, Daniel (1959) Stoneware and Porcelain: The Art of High-Fired Pottery Philadelphia: Chilton Book Company, Pennsylvania, 1959.
  • Coplans, John (1966) Abstract Expressionist Ceramics (exhibition catalogue), University of California, Irvine, 1966.
  • Read, Herbert (1964) A Concise History of Modern Sculpture New York: Oxford University Press, New York, 1964.
  • Beard, Geoffrey (1969) Modern Ceramics London: Studio Vista, United Kingdom, 1969.
  • Fischer, Hal (1978) "The Art of Peter Voulkos", ARTFORUM, November 1978, pp. 41 – 47.
  • Slivka, Rose (1978) Peter Voulkos: A Dialogue with Clay New York Graphic Society in association with American Crafts Council, New York 1978.
  • San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (1978) Peter Voulkos: A Retrospective 1948-1978 San Francisco, California, 1978.
  • Preaud, Tamara and Serge Gauthier (1982) Ceramics of the 20th Century New York:Rizzoli International, New York. 1982.
  • MacNaughton, Mary et al. (1994) Revolution in Clay: The Marer Collection of Contemporary Ceramics, Scripps College, Claremont, California, in association with The University of Washington, Seattle, 1994.
  • Slivka, Rose and Karen Tsujimoto (1995) The Art of Peter Voulkos, Kodansha International in collaboration with The Oakland Museum, Oakland, California, 1995.
  • Danto, Arthur Coleman and Janet Koplos Choice from America: Modern American Ceramics Het Kruithuis, Museum of Contemporary Art. 's-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands, pp. 9–12, 16-9, 104-7, 133. 1999.
  • The American Art Book London:Phaidon Press Limited, p. 467, 1999.
  • Cooper, Emmanuel (2000) Ten Thousand Years of Pottery, 4th ed., Philadelphia-Pennsylvania: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2000.
  • Faberman, Hilarie, et al. (2004 )Picasso to Thiebaud: Modern and Contemporary Art from the Collections of Stanford University Alumni and Friends, Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts, Stanford University. Palo Alto, California. 2004.

External links