On The Square

Fall Ceramics from Cowans

By Bidsquare

Oct 21,2016 | 11:00 EDT

The history of man is the history of ceramics. From the earliest renditions of pottery pieces made from clay, the story of the human race is tightly bound to their use. Ceramic comes from the Greek work keramikos, meaning "of pottery" or "for pottery," and includes figurines dating back 27,000 years. Without ceramics there would be no Grecian urns, no Ming Dynasty vases, no funky coffee mugs, no pottery wheel scene from Ghost. Instead, Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze would be stuck at a carpenters bench trying to hammer nails.

On Friday, October 28, Cowans Auctions offers bidders a unique opportunity to add to their burgeoning ceramics collections when they stage their Modern Ceramics & 20th Century Art sale. In its fifth year, the sale offers an enticing range of modern ceramics by artists including Robert Arneson, David Gilhooly, Lucie Rie, Anne Kraus, Peter Voulkos and Akio Takamori. For ceramic lovers, its the place to be this Halloween season!

Lot 7 - one of nine ceramic bricks by Robert Arneson set to lead off the sale

The auction opens with the sale of nine ceramic bricks by the father of the ceramic Funk Art movement, Robert Arneson. Arneson began making bricks in 1965, in a search for new form and content, seeing them as a burlesque of conventional ceramics. The brick would eventually be used as the basis of "Fragment of Western Civilization" (1972), consided by many to be one of his real masterpieces.    

The sale features a great range of work by Arneson, who often used blatant sexual references to remind us not to take ourselves, or fine art for that matter, too seriously. Lot 19 - "A Pot of Tea" is one of the artists signature teapots and comes from the collection of Allan Stone, a visionary New York collector who promoted young artists work of the mid 20th Century.

One of the sales most sort after pieces is sure to be Lot 40 - "Twentieth Century Pyramid with 4 Trash Trucks" by noted sculptor Dennis Clive. Clive, born and raised in Niagara Falls but now working and living in California, is known for ceramic work involving aviation, autos, trucks, birds and animal subjects. 

Those looking for something a little unusual should check out Lot 81, an untitled bush form scultpure in copper and bronze by Italian-born American Harry Bertoia. Bertoia, who immigrated to Detroit from his drought-ridden homeland at age 15, found fame as the designer of the critically acclaimed Diamond Chair.

Beyond ceramics the sale contains a healthy assortment of modern art and furniture. Lot 116 - an offset lithograph by iconic American artist Jasper Johns dates to 1960, two years after gallery owner Leo Castelli discovered Johns and gave him his first solo show.

Cowans Auctions Modern Ceramics & 20th Century Art sale is set down for Friday, October 28 and contains 125 expertly curated lots.