Ken Price: From Craft to Sculpture

Danielle Rago
Feb 12, 2013 9:01PM

If you look at American artist Ken Price’s oeuvre, which is currently on view in a new retrospective positioning the late artist’s work as sculpture rather than mere craft, at the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas, you can begin to understand the hybridity he creates combining painting and sculpture into amorphous forms. From slumps and rocks to geometrics, cups, eggs, and mounds Price experimented with different shapes as well as varied inflection given to those forms in terms of surface and scale. According to LACMA curator Stephanie Barron who organized the exhibition with Price and his dear friend, the architect Frank Gehry (who contributed to the design of the exhibition), “Ken Price is one of the most important postwar American sculptors.” And this exhibition truly positions him as such. The exhibit begins in reverse chronological order, with Price’s most recent works first and ending with his earliest including “Happy’s Curios”, which consists of individual wooden units filled with colorful cups, vessels and objects in the tradition of Mexican folk art. In the mid-1980s Price made a clear transition out of the ceramic experience into contemporary sculpture. Changing mediums from glaze to acrylic, the work he produced took on a very different characteristic. Later works produced from 2000 onward further depart from this methodology and can even be considered paintings on forms. There is an extraordinary craft that goes into making these incredibly complicated objects but what great sculptors do is they invent form. And, Price invented form. Ken Price: Sculpture, A Retrospective is on view at the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas through May 9. The exhibition will then travel to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in June 2013 as its final stop on a three-city tour, which began in September 2012 at the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, Price’s hometown.

Images courtesy Ken Price, photos by Fredrik Nilsen.

Danielle Rago
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