[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.