Style Court

Nine Years of Textiles, Art History, Gardens, and a Little Mental Traveling with Courtney Barnes

10.07.2011

Rough and Ready: Glen Lukens

[Glen Lukens earthenware bowl circa 1940 from California Design, 1930–1965.]

Today's ceramicist in the spotlight is Missouri-born Glen Lukens (1887-1967). Rough, earthy surfaces characterize his work even when the piece is glazed with one of his signature bright hues (aka California Colors). Controlled surface decoration is rarely his thing; Lukens is all about a ruggedness -- a texture -- that echoes natural clay.

[Glen Lukens, undated bowl with raised foot, off-white ceramic with Asian-inspired underglaze botanical motif, glaze and stain from Feeling, Thought and Spirit: The Ceramic Work of Glen Lukens.]

Although he hailed from the Midwest, Lukens forged a career on the West Coast and is now very much associated with innovative pre-war and mid-century California pottery. (Hence his inclusion in LACMA's new show California Design, 1930–1965.) During his years as an instructor at the University of Southern California, Lukens brought ceramics and jewelry courses to the school's College of Architecture; students included Frank Gehry and Laura Anderson. And while his own raw works reveal the ceramicist's hand, he believed handcrafted wares and mass-produced items should be able to co-exist and complement each other.


Lukens was also open to scientific experimentation. According to Feeling, Thought and Spirit: The Ceramic Work of Glen Lukens, he gathered alternative natural materials from Death Valley and worked with an engineer at the Gladding-McBean Terra Cotta Company to perfect a low-temperature, white-burning clay body using talc (magnesium silicate hydroxide) to modify local clays. This "talc body" was the perfect partner for the vivid, sheer glazes he created. There's more to explore over at the University of Missouri's Museum of Art and Archeology.

Related past posts: Heath Then and Now and Explore the World Discover Yourself.

10 comments:

ArchitectDesign™ said...

amazing work -also the name of my favorite junk shop (beloved by all designers in DC) that is slated to close soon for 'development'. Sad.

Style Court said...

Stefan -- Funny coincidence. You must have been on my mind! Sorry it's closing.

simone leblanc said...

I can't get over the textures and muted colors of the first bowl, just lovely.

Style Court said...

Simone -- I'm glad the softness is coming across on your screen. I was worried about that. It is beautiful.

Emile de Bruijn said...

A mixture of industrial feel and great delicacy - wonderful.

Ideezine said...

Clay a whole new wonderland unto itself. Stunning effects lifetime of learning. Love it!

Serenity Nursery said...

Absolutely love the ceramics, it's so my aesthetic.

Jenny Muslin said...

Beautiful bowls. Love your blog! Muzz Haves

Style Court said...

Thanks, Jenny!

Emile, Ideezine, SN -- So glad you appreciate his work too.

Mary Gordon said...

Nice to come across this and see the nice comments. Glen Lukens was mother-in-law's Uncle. I never met him, but Lois was very proud of "Uncle Glen" and we're lucky to have a couple of his pieces.