While much art pottery of the 20th century was produced by companies such as Rookwood, Roseville, and Weller, some of the most innovative work came out of the private studios of independent artists, who produced one-of-a-kind pieces on production schedules of their own making.

The studio art pottery movement in the United States is primarily about objects produced after World War II, but the inspiration for many studio ceramists was George Ohr, the self-described Mad Potter of Biloxi. Ohr built his first Mississippi pottery in 1883, using clay from the Tchouttacabouffa River. He was famous for taking conventional and classic vase shapes and then deforming them, glazing them in garish and dripping colors, or both.

Another pioneer of the studio art pottery movement was Otto Natzler, who, along with his wife, Gertrud, was a mentor to fellow Californian Beatrice Wood in the 1930s and ’40s. The forms thrown by Gertrud were mostly traditional, although her spare shapes were in keeping with the Mid-century Modern aesthetic of the day. Otto’s role was to glaze his wife’s work—during their long partnership, he created recipes for more than 1,000 glazes.

As for Wood, who became known for her figurative pieces and use of lustrous glazes, she first achieved notoriety by hanging hanging out with Marcel Duchamp and the New York Dada artists in the early part of the 20th century. She came into her own as a ceramist in the late 1940s, when she moved to Ojai, a rural farming community north of Los Angeles. Wood established her studio across the street from the Indian spiritual leader Krishnamurti, which further enhanced her Bohemian reputation and allure.

In fact, Southern California was a hotbed of postwar studio art pottery. Contemporaries of Wood included potters Vivika and Otto Heino and artist Peter Voulkos, who came to Los Angeles in 1954 to teach.

For several years, Voulkos shared a studio with a former student named John Mason—both men worked on a scale never before seen in art pottery. Voulkos would stack two or three tall pots on top of one another until he had built an imposing, rough-hewn structure. For his part, Mason’s vertical sculptures left the traditions of pottery entirely behind—he was inspired by the abstract-expressionism of the 1950s.

By the 1960s, the influence of pop and figurative art was being felt by studio ceramists. Robert Arneson, who taught at U.C. Davis and became known for using his own image in her...

Meticulous, trompe l'oeil porcelain master Richard Shaw was another graduate of Davis, while Viola Frey, whose massive, multi-colored figurative sculptures were like enormous cartoon panels, except in 3D, influenced three decades of students at the California College of the Arts.

Meanwhile, up in Seattle, Robert Sperry, Rudy Autio, Howard Kottler, and other professors at the University of Washington were mentoring artists such as Irv Tepper and Patti Warashina, who excelled at porcelain. Michael Lucero, who is best known for his hanging shard figures and massive, meticulously painted ceramic heads, came out of the same program in the late 1970s.

Other art pottery artists of note include Ken Price, Peter Shire, Roseline Delisle, Adrian Saxe, Ralph Bacerra, and Mineo Mizuno from Southern California; Ron Nagle, Bill Burke, and James Lovera from northern California; Betty Woodman from New York; Warren Mackenzie from Minnesota; Richard DeVore of Colorado; and Jun Kaneko of Nebraska.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Gouda Design

Gouda Design

Stuart Lonsdale and Kim Lindley's excellent tribute to and reference on Gouda Dutch Art Pottery and Delftware. The … [read review or visit site]

Cowan Pottery Museum Associates

Cowan Pottery Museum Associates

Dedicated to raising awareness of the ceramic art work of R. Guy Cowan and his Cowan Pottery Studio in northeastern… [read review or visit site]

The Pottery Studio

The Pottery Studio

This 7,000-plus page site lives up to its self-billing as a 'knowledge base' with examples of work from all major a… [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Authentic Paul Metcalf Studio Handmade Modernist Face Art Pottery Vase, NrModernist Vintage Polia Pillin Studio Art Pottery Bowl Mother & Child Mcm SignedWarren Mackenzie Shino Tea Bowl Stamped, Mingei (stud. Shoji Hamada) PotteryMary Wondrausch Studio Slipware Pottery Dove Bird & Love Motto JugMccarty Nutmeg With Edge Small 3 Footed Bowl/dishAnat Shiftan Ceramic Wall Sculpture Studio Hand Crafted Pottery PorcelainVintage Mccarty Bisque ShellUnknown Studio Pottery Vintage 60s German Space Age Modern Fat Lava Purple VaseWayne Ngan Studio Art Pottery 10 Sided Vase Dark Blue Salt Glaze CanadaDenmark Art Studio Pottery Bowl Signed Thomas Toft Modernist Mid-century Vtg.Vintage Studio Art Pottery Small Bowl Ernst & Alma Lorenzen Canadian Nova ScotiaVintage~art Studio~pottery~stoneware~pie Bird-vent Funnel~signed Davis Unusual Vase With Carbon-spotted Apple Ash Glaze, Made By Otto Heino In 2004Super Rare Vintage 1973 Signed Jim Rumph Pottery Demon HornFreiwald Art Pottery Studio Oilspot Atomic Ranch Mid Modern Rie Beato Lovera 21"Mary Rose Young 1995 Hand Crafted Rose Bowl With Applied Roses Made In EnglandBernard Leach Small Bottle And Cup Plus Studio Pottery BookEarly Frank Boyden Studio Pottery Raku Salmon Lamp Nw OregonNice Signed Eva Gordon Ceramic Orange With Blossoms Display Handmade HandpaintedNicholas Mosse Pottery Apple 5 Piece Set Luncheon Plates 8"1/2 Cereal Bowl 6"Mary Gates Dewey Handcrafted Pottery Cat Animal Statue Sculpture Figure Art 1997Patricia Garrett Pottery Pomegranate Vase...excellent ConditionMark Chatterley Bird House Ceramic Sculpture Studio Hand Crafted Mud Pie Dilemma, (signed By) Tom Coleman Studio Pottery, Oregon, 1st EditionIzwin Pottery Chicago Laurel Izard, Edwin Shelton 1995 Pear Lid Cookie JarIzwin Pottery Chicago Laurel Izard, Edwin Shelton 1995 Banana Lid Cookie JarBeato Beatrice Wood Volcanic Crackle Glaze Bowl California Studio Pottery SignedMichael Simon- Us Potter - Studio Pottery - Salt Glazed - StampedJill Oberman Set 4 Plates Porcelain Ceramic Art Pottery (stud. Richard Hirsch)Vintage Bjorn Winblad Studio Pottery Tray 1951 DenmarkMccarty Pottery Velveteen Bunny Candy Dish, NewEugene Deutch Glazed Poterry Bowl/plate.... Raised Animal Art Mccarty Pottery Nutmeg Square Tray Or Plate, New Charles Counts Art Pottery Studio Drip Glaze Plate Mcm SignedSuper Rare Vintage 1973 Signed Jim Rumph Pottery Demon HornLogan Wall Terra Cotta Sugar & Creamer Handmade Pottery (stud. Stephen Heywood)Magic Age Of Rumph Pottery Book 1973 Super RareGrace Sheese Vase Ceramic Art Pottery Studio PorcelainHtf Vintage Andersen Design Studio Bluebird Art Pottery Bird Figurine 1981Antique Middle Tennessee Stoneware Pottery Churn Putnam White CountyVintage Andersen Design Studio Flying Bluebird Pottery Bird Figurine 1986 Rare1987 Schuetzenfest Large Pottery Mug #75 Of 100 By S. Bokow Altamont IllinoisMichael Stumbras Vase Ceramic Art Pottery Studio (stud. Steven Hill)Melody In Motion 15 3/4" Whistling Clown & Clock Figurine Lamppost Head TurnsRon Geibel Ceramic Sculpture Studio Hand Crafted Signed PorcelainMartha Grover Lidded Porcelain Jar, Signed Studio Handcrafted PotteryEphraim Studio Laura Klein A&c Art Pottery Fiddlehead Yellow Cabinet Vase Nicholas Mosse Pottery Set Of 4 Pink Pig & Piglets Mugs +++Large Vintage Raku Studio Art Pottery Wall Plaque Wolves Tile Artist Signed MintEldreth Pottery Slat Glazed Bird House Feeder Signed 2006Matching Pair 2 Pigeon Forge Pottery 3 3/4" Long Black Bear Cubs D Ferguson ~ Five ~ Vintage Peter Pots Art Pottery Chowder Soup Cups Seagull Blue ExcellentFrances Palmer Vase Ceramic Art Pottery Studio Hand Crafted SignedOld Spouter Nantucket - Small VaseSteven Mcgovney Tammy Camarot Studio Ceramic Pottery Signed 18.25" X 9" VaseNorth State Pottery Jug New Nicholas Mosse " Landscape Animal " Pony Tiny Jug/pitcher/creamer 3 In.Leslie Mitchell Original Signed Raku Pottery 6 " X 6 3/4'' Vase Mineola TexasMarc Hansen Ceramic Pottery Modernist Ceramic Vessel VaseLarge Batchelder Studio Pottery Bowl Green & Beige Pasadena Art Deco