Published: February 27, 2007
“From Folk to Modern: Kentucky Pottery, 1900–1950,” on view in the Speed Art Museum’s Focus Galleries March 7–June 24, presents more than 40 objects drawn from several important private collections. “From Folk to Modern” is the first exhibition to trace the transformation of Kentucky pottery as production shifted from utilitarian wares to art pottery.
Work in the exhibition ranges from everyday functional items including crocks, jars and other storage vessels, to extraordinary, richly glazed art pottery vases, pitchers and other forms.
Along with changing economic conditions, the shift from utilitarian wares to art pottery was inspired by the early Twentieth Century Arts and Crafts movement. Devoted to the development and promotion of handcraft, the movement emphasized simple forms and restrained decoration. The rising demand for “artistic” pottery was met by Kentucky potteries such as Waco, Louisville Pottery Company and the Cornelison family’s Bybee pottery.
Seeking to remain viable amid an era of changing tastes, Kentucky potters incorporated concepts from the art world at large. Some specific examples of these influences in the exhibition include the rudimentary Art Deco styling found in the Louisville Pottery Company’s Cherokee line, the Asian and Mediterranean forms reinterpreted in the Bybee Pottery Company’s Selden Bybee line and the “pot as a canvas” painting approach used by the Kenton Hills Pottery.
The Speed Art Museum is at 2035 South Third Street. For information, 502-634-2700 or www.speedmuseum.org.
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