Lucio Fontana, Cock, 1948. Poly­chrome ceramic, 41.5 x 48.5 x 31.5 cm. From “Return to Earth.”

“Return to Earth: Ceramic Sculpture of Fontana, Melotti, Miró, Noguchi, and Picasso”

Dallas

Nasher Sculpture Center

Though clay has been in use for about 25,000 years, it has been slow to find acceptance as a fine art material. Ceramic works, perhaps because of their craft connotations, have always seemed a little too friable, too unserious, and too, well, “craftsy.” (Happily, this seems to be changing, as evidenced by Ken Price’s highly praised traveling retrospective.) “Return to Earth,” a handsome show organized by the Nasher Sculpture Center’s chief curator Jed Morse, revealed that in the hands of modern masters, clay can be witty, elegant, and even powerful. During the postwar period covered by the exhibition (1943–63), clay was a cheap and readily available material that offered clear benefits for artists working in the ravaged economies of Europe and Asia. You could knock off an idea quickly, and the satisfactions of working with this malleable and slippery stuff are well known to potters and schoolchildren alike…see the entire review in the print version of June’s Sculpture magazine.

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