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Robert Sperry: Bright Abyss

Bellevue Arts Museum
Bellevue WA – Oct 10-Jan 31, 2010

Robert Sperry, #833

Robert Sperry, #833 (1988), stoneware with slip [Bellevue Arts Museum, Bellevue WA, Oct 10-Jan 31]

Brendan Tang, Manga Ormolu version 3.0-a

Robert Sperry, #1084, 1994, stoneware tiles with slips and glazes [Bellevue Arts Museum, Bellevue WA, Oct 10-Jan 31] Photo: Robert Vinnedge

This retrospective exhibition follows the evolution of ceramic work produced by Robert Sperry (1927-1998). Sperry, who started his artistic path as a painter is known best for his contributions to American ceramics, however his expansive range of work also includes large scale murals, sculptures, printmaking and filmmaking. Bright Abyss refers to the dichotomy present in Sperry's work during his lifetime.

The postwar artist did graduate work at the University of Washington after a spending a summer as artist-in-residence at the Archie Bray Foundation in Helena, Montana with colleagues Rudy Autio and Peter Volkus. He went on to teach ceramics at the University of Washington for over 30 years.

Recognized internationally for his experimental ceramics, Sperry's use of heavy slip (liquid clay) over glazes created an organic crackling pattern in his work, an effect technically difficult to achieve.

Fusing his early interest in traditional Japanese pottery with other such interests like Abstract Expressionism, the fluidity of his painterly surface textures are balanced by simplicity of form. Sperry's long career also yielded a period of colourful “funk” ceramics, monumental public works such as the Safeco Corporation Pediment in Seattle and a classic documentary film about Japanese folk potters Village Potters of Onda (1966) which will be be shown in conjunction with the exhibit as part of the Robert Sperry film series.


Allyn Cantor

Robert Sperry, #366

Robert Sperry, #366, 1979, stoneware with high-fire iron wash, white crackle glaze, low-fire glaze, silver, platinum and gold lusters [Bellevue Arts Museum, Bellevue WA, Oct 10-Jan 31] Photo: Robert Vinnedge

 Mon, May 10, 2010