January 17, 2015–January 3, 2016

Nature, Sculpture, Abstraction, and Clay

100 Years of American Ceramics

This exhibition explores ceramic art from the late 19th century to today–from the Arts and Crafts movement to Midcentury Modernism to Studio Craft and contemporary practice. Outstanding works that display the transformative nature of clay include objects drawn from the MFA’s rich holdings as well as a number of local private collections. The exhibition features more than 70 works organized into three thematic sections: Sculpture and Abstraction, Nature and Landscape, and Surface and Decoration. Many of the objects have never before been on display in a museum, with the majority making their MFA debut. Pushing the boundaries between functional and sculptural, the works demonstrate unprecedented experimentation not only with forms, colors and glazes, but also with the role of clay as an artistic and sculptural medium. Highlighting the connections between contemporary art and the art of the past, the exhibition explores each generation’s distinct style, examining how the potter has been redefined as an artist, and how ceramics have been redefined as a vehicle for artistic expression. Diverse highlights include The Pine tile manufactured by Grueby Faience Company around 1906-20, Gourd-shaped vase form (model no.J821) by Gertrud and Otto Natzler from 1958, and a newly acquired porcelain sculpture, December (2013) by Cheryl Ann Thomas.


Above: Wayne Higby, Mirage Lake, 1984. Raku-fired earthenware. Gift of Mary-Louise Meyer in memory of Norman Meyer.

  • Bernard and Barbara Stern Shapiro Gallery (Gallery 231)


Presented with generous support from the John and Bette Cohen Fund for Contemporary Decorative Arts