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The Late Ken Price’s Metallic Sculptures Are “Strictly For Pleasure”

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The last works created by the late American artist Ken Price (1935-2012) include a series of six large-scale abstract sculptures in glazed and painted metallic finishes.

The doughy-looking sculptures are constructed from fired clay, and are inspired by a range of things that piqued Price’s interest over his five-decade career. This includes items and matter found in nature, including wormholes and sludge; as well as the influence of erotic objects, surf culture, and Mexican-folk pottery. Some pieces appear as blatantly phallic, others as if molten lava, all made “strictly for pleasure”, as the artist explained. “For over fifty years Price was a constantly inventive artist, continually changing the forms, surfaces, colors, and shapes of his sculptures”, reads a statement by the Matthew Marks Gallery, who has exhibited Price’s past works. “The bulbous forms of the last large sculptures are sanded to a smooth perfection and then lacquered in iridescent colors, that augment their seductive power”. In a posthumous tribute, The New York Times described Price as helping to elevate ceramics as an artform—now a universally popular craft—explaining that he “exploded the distinction between art and craft”.

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Artworks © The Estate of Ken Price. Images courtesy Matthew Marks Gallery