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by Robert Sievert


Ken Price (1)

Ken Price (2)

Ken Price (3)


There is some relationship between the work of Ken Price and Al Capp's Schmoos. If your memory stretches that far back, the schmoo was an invention of Capp for his comic strip LIL' ABNER. They were creatures completely devoted the pleasures of others; they would metamorphose into a bag of gold or a plate of pork chops for the hungry.

Not only does the work of Price resemble the schmoo in form but also in that their sole purpose seems to be to make others happy, and that they do. Each piece is made from ceramic and is then painted in an original and painstaking method, which render them objects of visual delight. One cannot imagine an art more benign.

The work is ceramic usually in the form of an anthropomorphic shape, globular in nature from which several subsidiarary globs are pulling away. The work is rounded and flowing and animated in that it implies movement.. No conflict or stoppage is in evidence.

What really makes them interesting is the finish. Unlike most ceramic work which is glazed, this work is painted. The painting to me seems to be of a particular West Coast style that I have encountered before. It is the buildup of layer and layer of applications that are then sanded down to reveal patterns of color. I believe the inspiration of this style was automotive: artists admired the glazing techniques of autobody workers using multilayers of paint to effect a finish. This color is amazingly singular and not unlike the work of Poissette Dart or other 20th century abstractionists who used many points of color to effect wonderful overall radiances.

Price's art evidences the concept that not all advances in painting will happen on canvas.


  Copyright © 2003 Robert Sievert