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    Sale 2049

    Post-War & Contemporary Art Morning Session

    13 November 2008, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 272

    Peter Voulkos (1924-2002)

    Big Bang

    Price Realised  


    Peter Voulkos (1924-2002)
    Big Bang
    signed and dated 'Voulkos 11-58' (lower right) and signed again and dated again '58-11 Voulkos' (upper left)
    oil, sand, tar and expoxy on canvas
    68 7/8 x 98 3/8 in. (174.8 x 249.6 cm.)
    Executed in 1958.

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    A hulking personality and a leading west-coast artist Peter Voulkos is credited with challenging the traditional ceramic scene and establishing the Ceramic Center at Otis Art Institute as the leader of the Craft-To-Art Movement, also known as the American Clay Revolution. Indeed it is as a ceramicist that Voulkos is best known, the artist made breaking the traditional rules of the form a daily exercise both invigorating his students and offending the more reserved administrators at Otis and U.C. Berkeley.

    Manuel Neri, figurative sculptor, eminent member of the Bay Area Figurative School and student of Voulkos at the California College of Art and Crafts in 1952 found the artists work prophetic. "It really knocked me out. It was like being hit over the head with what art was all about. After that I began to realize that art was a strong, powerful thing and not this bullshit decorative stuffhe forced himself on the material, completely imposed himself onto it, instead of taking that kind of sacred approach toward ceramics that most people did" (C. Jones, Bay Area Figurative Art, 1950-1965, London, 1990, p.133).

    A contemporary of Bay Area figurative artists such as David Park and Elmer Bischoff, Voulkos as a painter is more closely associated with the abstract and expressive tendencies of Clifford Still and Jackson Pollock who once described Voulkos's works as "Energy made visible" (R. Carasso, Peter Voulkos, www.artscenecal.com, p. 2). This is certainly an apt description of the present lot, Big Bang, 1958, a bold canvas that assumes a brilliant association to the ever unfolding cosmos-its subject clearly the process of creation and the subtext, albeit less literal, of the best Abstract Expressionist works. Voulkos, a painter, sculptor and collage artist, left an indelible mark on West Coast American art and created a body of work that continues to challenge and lead by example. Major paintings similar to Big Bang can be found in prominent public collections including the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco, the Oakland Museum of California, the Portland Art Museum and the Denver Art Museum.


    Private collection, California
    Acquired from the above by the present owner


    Pasadena Art Museum, Ceramics, Sculpture and Paintings by Peter H. Voulkos, December 1958-January 1959.
    Beverly Hills, galerie yoramgil, A Salute to Peter Voulkos, November-December 2002, no. 6.
    Pomona, American Museum of Ceramic Art, Peter Voulkos: Echoes of Japanese Aesthetic, November 2005-February 2006.