16 June 2008

Remembering Ralph Bacerra

Renowned ceramist Ralph Bacerra passed away on June 10th at his home in Eagle Rock. He was a long time member of the Otis Community, chairing the Ceramics program from 1983 to 1997.

His Los Angeles Times obituary included the following quote in reference to his piece Teapot (part of the Smithsonian American Art Museum collection)- "The piece was not created to brew tea but to be enjoyed as a purely visual and tactile experience..." Reading that reminded me of our teapot project in the Interactive Product Design program where form, rather than function was the primary intent.

Long represented by Frank Lloyd Gallery, Bacerra made work to be enjoyed rather than analyzed. In an interview for the Smithsonian oral history project he said, "I am not making any statements- social, political, conceptual, or even intellectual. There is no meaning or metaphor. I am committed more to the idea of pure beauty. When it is finished, the piece, should be like an ornament, exquisitely beautiful."

Apart from his own words, the idea was probably best described in a 1999 New York Times review by Ken Johnson- "To look at Ralph Bacerra's gorgeous ceramic vessels is to wallow in visual hedonism. Mr. Bacerra, an immensely skilled craftsman based in Los Angeles, does not try to express any important meaning, social, psychological, philosophical or otherwise. His works are witty and sophisticated in their manipulation of influences ranging from Japanese to early modernist to Pop, but mainly he wants to delight the eyes of his viewers."

Image of Teapot from Smithsonian American Museum website


alexa said...

ralph bacerra was my dads uncle. now of his passing we have alot of his artwork! i have alot of plates and a couple of bowls. we got to visit his house on eagle rock. it was so awesome and they was a ton of artwork and his work room was amazing!

Louise said...

I worked for Ralph and his partner for 10 years from 74-84 (and off/on to 1995) and had the unusual experience of melding art and technology, as well as travel, food and a unique business perspective. I am blessed to have a bowl he made for a wedding gift in 1974 which has been a part of my family's special occasions ever since.

Cindy said...

He was my uncle.. and left quite a legacy behind.. his work is a part of history that will be studied and viewed often..Ralph, Ron, Ann, Rosie and Dixie are all resting peacefully now.. and please be assured Ron and Ralph, I will take care of everything to your liking to the best of my ability...

MONTY said...

Richard Lawton - student from 1985-1989 plus
Ralph was probably my finest teacher. We often had huge disagreements and confrontations. He was infinitely patient. His work was not purely about craft, although he always said it was so. We had many complex conversations about what he was doing. It was a challenge to understand at 20 years of age. I will always remember his resoluteness and his innocence. A great mind. He like a good cup of coffee.