Late last year the American Museum of Ceramic Art in Pomona, California honored one of the great American studio potters for his 100th birthday. HM100: A Century Through the Life of Harrison McIntosh was a trip through more than 80 years of the artist’s work, ceramics which reached for a sense of perfection and serenity. McIntosh’s pieces have appeared in more than 40 museum collections; including the Smithsonian Museum, Washington DC, the Lourve, Paris and the National Museum of Art, Tokyo. He’s had 43 solo exhibitions over a period of 50 years and stopped creating only when his eyesight started to wane.
AMOCA states of the exhibition:
Harrison McIntosh’s long career as a Los Angeles area ceramic artist spanned eight decades. From his modern approach to classical vessel forms in the 1950s, his work expanded to sculptural spheres floating on geometric chrome forms. Known for his strong sensual shapes, often enhanced by distinctive surface decoration of thin sgrafitto lines or rhythmic brush spots, his ceramics are held in numerous museum collections around the world.
Following his own path, McIntosh chose to build on his foundation in modern design rather than pursue the expressionistic approach to clay that became popular in the 1960s. Working in his Claremont studio, he continued to explore the subtleties of form, both vessel and sculptural, in his personal, thoughtfully deliberate manner.
He was one of the first generation of West Coast potters to work with hand-thrown stoneware, a contemporary of Gertrude and Otto Natzler and Laura Andreson. Along with his close friend Sam Maloof, he was among the craftsmen whose work defined California design at mid-century, interpreting a modern esthetic with natural materials.
In the early years McIntosh sold his work at home furnishing stores such as Bullocks Wilshire, Van Kepple Green in Beverly Hills and Abacus in Pasadena. In the 1980s and 90s, his work was represented by Louis Newman and later by Frank Lloyd Gallery. While he preferred working in the relative solitude of his studio, McIntosh also designed prototypes for Metlox pottery and tiles for Interpace. With wife, Marguerite, he traveled to Japan each summer throughout the 1970s to design dinnerware and glassware for Mikasa.
SoCal Connected produced a video for the exhibition, showing the beloved potter taking a grand tour of his life’s work.
We’ve assembled some of McIntosh’s works in this post. Please take a moment to appreciate this powerhouse of improvisation and trendsetting studio pottery.
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