The Incorrect Museum: Pot Palace

About

In 1959, Peter Voulkos began teaching ceramics at the University of California at Berkeley, establishing a โ€œpot palaceโ€ in the basement of the University Art Museum. It was a vibrant, round-the-clock scene where artistsโ€”including Stephen De Staebler, Jim Melchert, Manuel Neri, Ron Nagle and Richard Shaw, among othersโ€”gathered to talk about art and life. Voulkos performed vivid demonstrations of his creative process and at night, when he wasnโ€™t working, sipped scotch and played flamenco guitar with his fellow artists.

โ€œPete was the magnet for all this creative energy,โ€ said Ron Nagle, whose small, intricate pieces are the opposite of Voulkosโ€™ ruggedly beautifullyโ€”and resolutely non-functionalโ€” stacked pots and slashed plates. โ€œHe was the real deal, a consummate artist. To be around that kind of energy and presence and charisma was inspiring. He didnโ€™t talk a lot about art; he taught by example.โ€ This performative pedagogy was key. He demonstrated that, as De Staebler later wrote: โ€œThe performance, the process of making anythingโ€”and most certainly artโ€”is the art.โ€

Voulkosโ€™ pot palace became the seat of a revolution in ceramics, leading to a reconsideration of clay from the identity of a utilitarian craft to fine art. He and his disciples trusted the material and their intuitive power with it, committing themselves to the energy that grew from this interaction.

"Pete was the magnet for all this creative energy." โ€” Ron Nagle

Peter Voulkos, ๐˜—๐˜ญ๐˜ข๐˜ต๐˜ฆ, 1973, 21 1/2 ร— 21 1/2 ร— 4 1/2 inches.

artworks in pot palace

origins: pot palace