“Shapes from Out of Nowhere” in New York, NY

Shapes from Out of Nowhere: Ceramics from the Robert A. Ellison Jr. Collection, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, was another show I was longing to see.

The exhibition consists of over 75 works, from a collection of 125 modern and contemporary ceramics that Ellison donated to the Metropolitan Museum of Art on their 150th anniversary.

I felt like I was walking into a party full of old and dear friends. Of course art (unfortunately) doesn’t talk but I might have greeted all the pieces as if they did! Hello Kathy, Betty, George, Ken, etc.!

The collection is spectacular and will be on display until August 29, 2021. I’ll definitely be back to see it again.

“The exhibition highlights the myriad approaches embraced by artists who have challenged the long history of clay and its reliance on the potter’s wheel—from slight deviations of traditional vessel forms to deconstructions that reject utility and exploit the boundless experimentation that clay affords. Mid-twentieth-century by artists Axel Salto, Ken Price, Toshiko Takaezu, Katherine Choy, Peter Voulkos, and Win Ng, are seen alongside contemporary creations by Aneta Regel, Kathy Butterly, Syd Carpenter, and Lynda Benglis—artists who continue to expand the possibilities of the medium. Included in the exhibition are eight striking works by the late nineteenth-century artist George Ohr. These loans from Ellison’s private collection attest to Ohr’s radical vision and foreshadow the embrace of abstraction and nonrepresentational forms by artists in the 1950s and 60s.

Ellison’s extraordinary gift and this exhibition represent over forty years of collecting ceramics, a passion that eventually crystallized into the singular approach of nonrepresentational form in clay. Shapes from Out of Nowhere: Ceramics from the Robert A. Ellison Jr. Collection presents the work of forty-nine artists whose works reject any lingering ideas of medium-based hierarchies and celebrates artistic expression.” (The Metropolitan Museum of Art)

Axel Salto, Royal Copenhagen Vase, 1945
H 19 3/4 in
F. Carlton Ball and Aaron Bohrod, Triple Neck Vase, 1952-56
H 14 in
George E. Ohr, Vase, 1898-1910
Private collection of Robert A. Ellison Jr
Elisa D’Arrigo, Blue Dyad 1, 2015
H 11 in
Far right: Katherine Choy, Bough Pot with Three Spouts, before 1958 H
26 in
Kathy Butterly, Pony Boy, 2011
H 6 7/8”
Front image: George E. Ohr, Vase, 1897-1900
Collection of Robert A. Ellison Jr

Back image: Kathy Butterly, Dream State, 2016
H 7 in
Elisa D’Arrigo, Sidestepper, 2017-18
H 7 in
Babs Haenen, Spring Dunes, 1988
H 15 1/8
John Gill, Tall Vase, 1995
H 24 in
Left to right: Aneta Regel, John Gill, and Raymon Elozua
Ken Price, Untitled (Vessel), 1957
H 17 in
Betty Woodman, Sea of Japan Pillow Pitcher, 1985
H 17 1/2 in
Middle/top left: Win Ng
Top middle: Peter Voulkos
Top right: Robert Turner
Middle right: Ewen Henderson
Bottom row (all three): William Perry
Left: Ruth Duckworth, Untitled (Mama Pot) ca. 1973
H 18 in

Middle: Cristina Carver, ROTTOLOCUS, 1992
H 24 3/4 in

Right: Gary Erickson, Sobornado, 1996
H 20 1/4 in
Howard Kottler, Chalice, 1965
H 14 in
Jim Melchert, Untitled (Vessel), ca. 1960
H 13 1/4 in
Arnie Zimmerman, Bladder, Tongue and Tangle, 1994
H 23 3/4 in
Syd Carpenter, Deep Roots, 1991
H 49 3/4 in
Raymon Elozua, Digital Sculpture RE34-1-word, 2001
H 23 3/8 in
Peter Callas, Mentori MN 013, 2016
H 7 3/8 in
Arnie Zimmerman, Light Green Tangle, 2013
Axel Alto, Royal Copenhagen Vase, 1945
H 17 1/4 in
Anne Marie Laureys, Cloud Unicus, 2017
H 17 1/2 in
Kyoto Tonegawa, Asteroidal Last Gasp, 1985
H10 in

Kyoto Tonegawa, Quaternary, 1986
H 9 1/4 in

Kyoto Tonegawa, Vesuvial Thirst, 1984
H 12 in

2 thoughts on ““Shapes from Out of Nowhere” in New York, NY

  1. This is a post I’m going to look at over and over — and think about for awhile. Thank you!

  2. Thankyou. very interesting to see work in this show & see Ellison’s taste; twisting, sagging, collapsing forms in abundance. we

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