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Ken Price

From the 1950s onwards, Ken Price committed to clay as a material and was a key figure in the rising Los Angeles art scene. His small-scale brightly coloured ceramic sculptures have been equally inspired by ancient Mexican earthenware, traditional folk pottery and the Bauhaus fusion of crafts and fine arts. Developing high craftsmanship, he handmade very different series of abstract and biomorphic forms imbued with suggestive associations. In the 1970s, he moved to Taos in New Mexico where he produced the ambitious series called Happy’s Curios that includes various display devices like ‘death shrines’ and ‘town units’. He spent the 1980s in Massachusetts, and moved back to Los Angeles and New Mexico in 1992. Price often fired his sculptural objects (sometimes functional vessels) unglazed, which he then painted with multiple, thin layers of colour. These were often sanded to produce a variegated effect. He also worked as a printmaker.

Ken Price was born in 1935 in Los Angeles and died in 2012 in New Mexico. Price had his first solo exhibition at the Ferus Gallery, Los Angeles, in 1960. In 1979 and 1981, he participated in the Whitney Biennial. His first retrospective took place in 1992 at the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis. A major travelling retrospective was organised by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (2012-2013) and designed by his friend Frank Gehry.

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