Crocker Art Museum Announces Retrospective of Ceramic Artist Karen Karnes

. April 21, 2012 . 0 Comments

The Crocker Art Museum will present a major retrospective of ceramic artist Karen Karnes from June 23 through September 30, 2012. For more than 60 years, Karnes has been at the forefront of the studio pottery movement, creating some of the most iconic vessels and sculptural objects in American ceramics. This exhibit will highlight 69 masterworks from this pioneering artist.

Karen Karnes, 1969, salt-glazed stoneware, 19 inches. Currier Museum of Art, Museum Purchase: The Henry Melville Fuller Acquisition Fund, 2006.23; Vessel, Karen Karnes, 1984, produced in Morgan, VT, glazed stoneware, wood-fired,14 x 13 x 13 in. Collection of Dr. Martin and Joyce Halpert. Photo credit: Anthony Cuñha; Three Forms, Karen Karnes, 2002, produced in Morgan, VT, stoneware, salt-glazed, (L) 20½ x 4½ in.,(M) 30 ½ x 6¼ in. (R) 23½ x 6¼ in.Private Collection, New York Photo credit: Anthony Cuñha

Karnes’ artistic output is recognized for its understated, poetic surfaces, and sublime biomorphic forms. From her dramatic salt-glazed pottery of the 1960s and ‘70s, to her most recent joined sculptural pieces, Karnes consistently has challenged herself and has transformed expectations of the medium. She remains one of the medium’s most influential working potters today and is a mentor to several generations of studio potters.

“American Craft” magazine noted “Karen Karnes is more than admired in the ceramics world; she is beloved. ‘A Chosen Path: The Ceramic Art of Karen Karnes’ is a reminder of what a pleasure it can be to encounter in person, the full range of work created by such a figure.”

Born in 1925 in New York, Karnes studied at Brooklyn College and later at Alfred University. In the early 1950s, Karnes was a potter-in-residence at North Carolina’s avant-garde Black Mountain College. In 1954, Karnes moved to Stony Point, New York, where she continued to produce functional, salt-glazed pieces until 1979. She eventually moved to Vermont and adopted a more conceptual approach and wood-firing techniques.

“A Chosen Path: The Ceramic Art of Karen Karnes” was organized by the Arizona State University Art Museum Ceramic Research Center. The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue edited by ceramist Mark Shapiro and ceramics historian Garth Clark.

The Crocker Art Museum was the first art museum in the Western U.S. and remains one of the leading art museums in California. Established in 1885, the Museum features one of the country’s finest collections of Californian art, exceptional holdings of master drawings, a comprehensive collection of international ceramics, as well as European, Asian, African, and Oceanic art. The Crocker is located at 216 O Street in Downtown Sacramento. Museum hours are 10 a.m.–5 p.m., Tuesday–Sunday; 10 a.m.–9 p.m., Thursdays. For more information, call (916) 808-7000 or visit

Crocker Art Museum
216 O Street
Sacramento, CA 95814

Category: Museum News

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