Jump to content


Photo

functional vs. sculptural


  • Please log in to reply
25 replies to this topic

#1 phill

phill

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 184 posts
  • Locationmn

Posted 15 March 2012 - 11:36 AM

I'll be honest, I don't really plan on debating if functional ceramics are better or worse than sculptural ceramics. i just used that in the title to grab your attention. did it work? (rhetorical). But it does relate. here's how:

I like functional pottery better than sculptural. I like to make functional things, I like the look of functional things better, I just plain like functional pots more. And I know that I immediately judge pots by what I like and don't like.

Do you also judge pots the same way? It seems like a secret--I can't actually let on that I deem pots good or bad based on what I like, can I? It seems too simple, too easy, too mean, and less credible. But it is the truth.
I study pots a lot. I look at good pots and bad pots, pots that are deemed worthy of display by museums and galleries, pots that other people think are good through books and websites. I see professional potters selling work and examine their pots. I notice what sells and what doesn't. I think people foolish or wise based on what pots they buy.

These honest thoughts may seem silly to you, but consider that all of this comes down to these questions:
1. Is it viable to judge pottery based on what I like?
2. Is there really a standard in pottery for judgement?

Thanks for your well-thought answers.

#2 TJR

TJR

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 1,238 posts
  • LocationCanada

Posted 15 March 2012 - 01:06 PM

Phil;
These are good thoughts. I will try to answer in a well thought out manner. I sometimes am attracted to pottery and art work that I am unable to do. Either it is more complicated or more decorative, but ultimately it comes down to good form. If it is a pitcher that is full, with a strong handle, I like it. I do not like drips, or drippy glazes. There, I have said it.I am sure I could come up with more, but I don't want to monopolize the discussion.
TJR.

#3 Lucille Oka

Lucille Oka

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 756 posts
  • LocationCalifornia

Posted 15 March 2012 - 04:29 PM

Phil why are you in such a quandary? We are, all of us consumers with likes and dislikes. There is no standard way to like or not like. All taste is varied and valid. There are potentially 6,000,000,000 different types of tastes. If you hit upon a style of work that appeals to .0000001% of that number you are doing good. Fret not.


John 3:16
"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life".

#4 Mark C.

Mark C.

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 2,924 posts
  • LocationNear Arcata Ca-redwood rain forest

Posted 15 March 2012 - 05:52 PM

I'll be honest, I don't really plan on debating if functional ceramics are better or worse than sculptural ceramics. i just used that in the title to grab your attention. did it work? (rhetorical). But it does relate. here's how:

I like functional pottery better than sculptural. I like to make functional things, I like the look of functional things better, I just plain like functional pots more. And I know that I immediately judge pots by what I like and don't like.

Do you also judge pots the same way? It seems like a secret--I can't actually let on that I deem pots good or bad based on what I like, can I? It seems too simple, too easy, too mean, and less credible. But it is the truth.
I study pots a lot. I look at good pots and bad pots, pots that are deemed worthy of display by museums and galleries, pots that other people think are good through books and websites. I see professional potters selling work and examine their pots. I notice what sells and what doesn't. I think people foolish or wise based on what pots they buy.

These honest thoughts may seem silly to you, but consider that all of this comes down to these questions:
1. Is it viable to judge pottery based on what I like?
2. Is there really a standard in pottery for judgement?

Thanks for your well-thought answers.





I think that it is viable.
I also judge pottery on what I like-good solid forms with feet as well as how well they will function.
This is a product of my education as much as life's experience-I have a huge japanese influence thrown in as well
I can overcome areas like glazing to some degree if the form is strong
I did learn long ago there is no accounting of taste-so I try never to judge others on what they buy. I feel thats an educational thing and the public has little in that field.
Hey if they want a sponge holder I'll sell them one so I can support the other things in clay I want to do.
I feel so fortunate to be able to be paid to be in the studio for so many years-that cost to me is making items people want to use weather I like or want them myself. I strive to make all those pots strong and durable functional forms.

As far as a standards for judgements I feel this a personal thing and am not aware of any?
Mark

Mark Cortright
www.liscomhillpottery.com

#5 Matt Oz

Matt Oz

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 268 posts
  • LocationMichigan

Posted 15 March 2012 - 08:15 PM

here's my opinion: I have never met a piece of clay that I didn't like, sculptural or functional, amateur or professional.

#6 Pres

Pres

    Retired Art Teacher

  • Moderators
  • 2,066 posts
  • LocationCentral, PA

Posted 15 March 2012 - 08:40 PM

I'll be honest, I don't really plan on debating if functional ceramics are better or worse than sculptural ceramics. i just used that in the title to grab your attention. did it work? (rhetorical). But it does relate. here's how:

I like functional pottery better than sculptural. I like to make functional things, I like the look of functional things better, I just plain like functional pots more. And I know that I immediately judge pots by what I like and don't like.

Do you also judge pots the same way? It seems like a secret--I can't actually let on that I deem pots good or bad based on what I like, can I? It seems too simple, too easy, too mean, and less credible. But it is the truth.
I study pots a lot. I look at good pots and bad pots, pots that are deemed worthy of display by museums and galleries, pots that other people think are good through books and websites. I see professional potters selling work and examine their pots. I notice what sells and what doesn't. I think people foolish or wise based on what pots they buy.

These honest thoughts may seem silly to you, but consider that all of this comes down to these questions:
1. Is it viable to judge pottery based on what I like?
2. Is there really a standard in pottery for judgement?

Thanks for your well-thought answers.


Guilty, guilty, guilty. Yes, my personal tastes are swayed by my own personal perception of what makes a good pot. Right or wrong, it is how I am. I understand that there is much out there in clay that is considered great that I don't like, but most of it is not really pottery it is sculpture. Volkos threw on the wheel, and as pots I really hate them, as sculptures I understand them. He was a potter pushing his work into unexplored territory, and he succeeded. When I look at pots, I constrain them with parameters of craftsmanship, functionality, and comfort that a piece of sculpture does not have to have. At the same time I look at sculptures from a standpoint of design involving surface involvement, line and motion, or stability and strength while pushing the envelope. So looking at the two categories, I make judgements, and come to terms with the pieces in front of me. All of this means an acceptance, but then I guess that comes from being a teacher also when dealing with the work of students where to much criticism can discourage forever, and not enough does them no favors.

Simply retired teacher, not dead, living the dream. on and on and. . . . on. . . .                                                                                 http://picworkspottery.blogspot.com/


#7 Prokopp

Prokopp

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 24 posts

Posted 15 March 2012 - 08:52 PM

Certainly it is viable to judge pottery based on what you like! What other criteria are you going to use? After all, if you are the buyer or user, then you get to judge the appeal of the ceramics, and you should enjoy what you buy.
You've probably bought something just to be in style or hip, ( I have, years ago) only to find that it's not really you, and that it really doesn't have any appeal for you. Don't do that with pottery! You are the best judge, not someone else's ideas.
I don't think that there is any standard in judgement for pottery, Bernard Leach and all those 'rule-makers' notwithstanding.
'Towards a Standard', my foot, the sooner we dispense with that load of hokum the sooner we will see real creativity and freedom.
Why the Western world was ever expected to adopt Asian standards for ceramics is beyond me...yes, they are beautiful, exciting, inspiring, mystical, wonderful. But they are not WESTERN, and for the West to adopt these standards and practices is disingenuous, stultifying, and backward.
Not only should the West never have adopted these standards, but the East should break free from them as well; indeed to my mind one of the greatest ideas to come about in ceramics was the creation of Sodeisha by Kazuo Yagi and his friends, who sought to break free from the canonical forms and ideas, and to permit real freedom and creativity.
What we need today is a continuation of the ideas of Sodeisha, to allow clay to become anything and everything it can become, without being held back.
Ceramics Monthly is doing a good job of exposing the new work being done in clay, and your ideas as to what you like and don't like can also play a big part.
Good post, phill.

#8 Idaho Potter

Idaho Potter

    Learning all the time

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 400 posts
  • LocationBoise, Idaho

Posted 16 March 2012 - 01:51 PM

Liking or disliking anything--from food to people to pottery--is a subjective decision. When you look at or interact with it does it make you feel good? That's subjective, and there's nothing wrong with that. I make pots that I like. I admire other people's work as well. That's subjective.

I would venture to say that the only time you need be objective in your view or comments is if you are judging/jurying an exhibit or show, or as a teacher critiquing class work. It's really hard to be objective about any type of arts or crafts, because our own self-held opinions tend to get in the way. To be as objective as possible you'd have to break the art object into component parts and judge each component separately. In other words: technique; form; finish; presentation; etc.

Kind of takes all the fun and enjoyment of just looking and liking, I'm gonna stay with subjective.

#9 phill

phill

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 184 posts
  • Locationmn

Posted 17 March 2012 - 11:32 AM

it is comforting to see that the lot of you also do the same or at least say it's okay to.

To say that you think a pot is a good one simply because you like it brings truth to pottery and I like that. It even seems a little rebellious to me. I remember hearing Warren Mackenzie stories about people picking up pots in his studio and putting them back down just because it wasn't Warren's. He would tell them that if they liked the pot, then it is a good pot. (And I believe this was one of the reasons he stopped stamping his work for a while.)

Why the Western world was ever expected to adopt Asian standards for ceramics is beyond me...yes, they are beautiful, exciting, inspiring, mystical, wonderful. But they are not WESTERN, and for the West to adopt these standards and practices is disingenuous, stultifying, and backward.


This is an interesting thought prokopp. Perhaps they brought them to the west (I assume you mean North America, right?) because Asia had been making pots for a much longer time than the young N. America. And it is very intrinsic to take someone's ideas/standards/art/philosophies/et. cetera and try to improve upon them rather than come up with a whole new system completely unrelated except by materials. Look at painting, for example. Most paintings throughout history you can find many shared ideas and themes, and how artists have built off of them and changed them to their liking.

#10 JBaymore

JBaymore

    Moderator

  • Moderators
  • 2,982 posts
  • LocationWilton, NH USA

Posted 17 March 2012 - 12:20 PM

Why the Western world was ever expected to adopt Asian standards for ceramics is beyond me...yes, they are beautiful, exciting, inspiring, mystical, wonderful. But they are not WESTERN, and for the West to adopt these standards and practices is disingenuous, stultifying, and backward.


How do you think this relates to the historical European influences and "standards" on painting and sculpture in North America?

best,

..................john
John Baymore
Immediate Past President; Potters Council
Professor of Ceramics; New Hampshire Insitute of Art

http://www.JohnBaymore.com

#11 Marcia Selsor

Marcia Selsor

    Professor Emerita, Montana State University-Billings

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 3,980 posts
  • Locationwhere Texas, Matamoros, Rio Grande and Gulf of Mexico come together.

Posted 21 March 2012 - 06:04 AM

I think if you mean "judging" as your personal response to ceramics pieces, then of course it is what your personal preference is. The response to "beauty" or visual things is naturally subjective. I think, as potters, touch is also way up there on the judgement scale. I love good, well-designed functional ware. I also like funky functional. I think some ceramics sculpture is exquisite..like Christina Cordoba's work. It is all subjective and valid. IF you were judging an exhibition, you may have to hold back on your subjectivity and develop a standard of professional qualities for acceptance even though it wasn't exactly your "cup of tea".

Marcia

#12 OffCenter

OffCenter

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 1,372 posts

Posted 21 March 2012 - 07:21 AM

Why the Western world was ever expected to adopt Asian standards for ceramics is beyond me...yes, they are beautiful, exciting, inspiring, mystical, wonderful. But they are not WESTERN, and for the West to adopt these standards and practices is disingenuous, stultifying, and backward.
Not only should the West never have adopted these standards, but the East should break free from them as well; indeed to my mind one of the greatest ideas to come about in ceramics was the creation of Sodeisha by Kazuo Yagi and his friends, who sought to break free from the canonical forms and ideas, and to permit real freedom and creativity.
What we need today is a continuation of the ideas of Sodeisha, to allow clay to become anything and everything it can become, without being held back.
Ceramics Monthly is doing a good job of exposing the new work being done in clay, and your ideas as to what you like and don't like can also play a big part.
Good post, phill.


From someone who thinks it's hilarious to see Western potters pretending they're 19th century Japanese potters, thanks for the above.

Jim
E pur si muove.

"But it does move," said Galileo under his breath.

#13 Cate Donoghue

Cate Donoghue

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 12 posts

Posted 22 March 2012 - 12:07 PM

LOL. I was watching a Simon Leach video the other day and he was talking about potters trying to be all "Japaneezy" I think was the term. Made me giggle :)
[/quote]

From someone who thinks it's hilarious to see Western potters pretending they're 19th century Japanese potters, thanks for the above.

Jim
[/quote]

#14 Frederik-W

Frederik-W

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 292 posts
  • Locationa distant moon of Uranus

Posted 23 March 2012 - 07:02 AM

'Towards a Standard', my foot, the sooner we dispense with that load of hokum the sooner we will see real creativity and freedom.

... for the West to adopt these standards and practices is disingenuous, stultifying, and backward.
Not only should the West never have adopted these standards, but the East should break free from them as well;


Great statements. I'll drink to that.

#15 Frederik-W

Frederik-W

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 292 posts
  • Locationa distant moon of Uranus

Posted 23 March 2012 - 07:26 AM

... it's hilarious to see Western potters pretending they're 19th century Japanese potters...
Jim


I agree, it is the pretentiousness of western "japaneezy" pottery that gets to me.
There are some potters who have a genuine interest and talent in this type of pottery though.


#16 Diana Ferreira

Diana Ferreira

    opinionated ignoramus

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 186 posts
  • LocationCape Town, South Africa

Posted 23 March 2012 - 10:26 AM

As someone who's got no formal art or ceramic training, I tend to be on the quiet side about subjects like this.

The thing is. My mother hated opera and ballet. Yet she felt it her duty to introduce her kids to the theatre. My brother and sister hated every moment at the opera and ballet. I wanted more. I wore out the few classical LP's we had in our house. The rest of the family thought I was weird. And I thought I was swapped at birth ... As much as my darling mother hated opera, she hated the thought that her mid-ofspring would consider an artistic career, and I went on to become a RN. But art was still fuming inside me. On a backpacking holiday through Europe my poor sister had to visit all the museums and galleries that I had read about as a kid. I needed to see David in all his glory. (and did) I had to see the Nachtwacht. And did. I paid my sister to view Van Gogh's work in Amsterdam with me. She started to weep when she saw the work. So did I.

Anyway. Here I am today. Living the life that I wanted my whole life. I do not complain (too much) if I have no money, or need to couch surf because I cannot afford rent. But in the last 6 years I allowed myself to be that that every strand of DNA demanded of me my whole life.

And yes. I look at stuff and like it or think it is good because I like it. I prefer functional pottery, but even more I need the functional ceramics to be pleasing in form, shape and especially in it's usefullness. Balance. That is what I need to see. I need to hear music in my head when I look or touch a piece. And it need to be Bach or Mozart.

Someone years ago told me to always remember that less is more. In life, in eating, in art. That is what I like.

In my own work (by the way, I am a caster ...) shape is vital to me. That is all and everything to me. Once the shape is perfect in my imperfect eyes, I can relax. I do not need to add to the work. I have one wonderful glaze that I will use until I die. Through temp manipulations I can change the look of the work. But that is ok to me. I am not influenced by Leach or who ever, as I never studied ceramics. I am influenced by my environment and life. And that makes me like certain things and think it is good, or not.
Diana
www.dianaferreiraceramics.com
https://www.facebook...70824173&type=3

#17 OffCenter

OffCenter

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 1,372 posts

Posted 23 March 2012 - 01:01 PM

As someone who's got no formal art or ceramic training, I tend to be on the quiet side about subjects like this.

The thing is. My mother hated opera and ballet. Yet she felt it her duty to introduce her kids to the theatre. My brother and sister hated every moment at the opera and ballet. I wanted more. I wore out the few classical LP's we had in our house. The rest of the family thought I was weird. And I thought I was swapped at birth ... As much as my darling mother hated opera, she hated the thought that her mid-ofspring would consider an artistic career, and I went on to become a RN. But art was still fuming inside me. On a backpacking holiday through Europe my poor sister had to visit all the museums and galleries that I had read about as a kid. I needed to see David in all his glory. (and did) I had to see the Nachtwacht. And did. I paid my sister to view Van Gogh's work in Amsterdam with me. She started to weep when she saw the work. So did I.

Anyway. Here I am today. Living the life that I wanted my whole life. I do not complain (too much) if I have no money, or need to couch surf because I cannot afford rent. But in the last 6 years I allowed myself to be that that every strand of DNA demanded of me my whole life.

And yes. I look at stuff and like it or think it is good because I like it. I prefer functional pottery, but even more I need the functional ceramics to be pleasing in form, shape and especially in it's usefullness. Balance. That is what I need to see. I need to hear music in my head when I look or touch a piece. And it need to be Bach or Mozart.

Someone years ago told me to always remember that less is more. In life, in eating, in art. That is what I like.

In my own work (by the way, I am a caster ...) shape is vital to me. That is all and everything to me. Once the shape is perfect in my imperfect eyes, I can relax. I do not need to add to the work. I have one wonderful glaze that I will use until I die. Through temp manipulations I can change the look of the work. But that is ok to me. I am not influenced by Leach or who ever, as I never studied ceramics. I am influenced by my environment and life. And that makes me like certain things and think it is good, or not.


Diana, I enjoyed reading the above and appreciate you having pots in the gallery section of your profile. (I hate it when someone post here and then has nothing in their gallery--all talk, no show.) BTW, I didn't know Cape Town was the most beautiful city in the world.

Jim
E pur si muove.

"But it does move," said Galileo under his breath.

#18 Diana Ferreira

Diana Ferreira

    opinionated ignoramus

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 186 posts
  • LocationCape Town, South Africa

Posted 23 March 2012 - 02:59 PM

Are you kidding me Jim? Cape Town is one of the most visually pleasing places that I have ever visited. And now I am not talking man-made stuff, but just the place. We have this amazing mountain that falls in the city limits, a stone throw away from the bay. It gives us shade in the afternoon, and after a bit of rain it looks all bright and clean. I live underneath a little peak to the left of our beloved mountain. It is called Devil's Peak. Our South Easter howls and races down the valley past my house - as it is doing now. Some days it look as if our mountain is set for a meal with a soft cloud tablecloth spread across it. Walking/climbing up the mountain is a favourite past time, and if you are lazy you can use a cable car to get to the top. And from there you can gaze across the Atlantic, or into the distances of the start of Africa. I look at our mountain a couple of times a day. During the season our city will even light it up so that we can see it clearly at night! lol.

Ok, enough about my city and our absurd love for a mountain ...

thank you for the kind words. Much appreciated!
Diana
www.dianaferreiraceramics.com
https://www.facebook...70824173&type=3

#19 Prokopp

Prokopp

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 24 posts

Posted 27 March 2012 - 01:32 AM

Who cares how it relates to " the historical European influences and "standards" on painting and sculpture in North America?"
What does that have to do with the price of eggs in China?

#20 Frederik-W

Frederik-W

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 292 posts
  • Locationa distant moon of Uranus

Posted 30 March 2012 - 06:41 AM

I like functional pottery better than sculptural. I like to make functional things, I like the look of functional things better, I just plain like functional pots more. And I know that I immediately judge pots by what I like and don't like.


Phill,
we are completely opposite in our opinions, I can re-phrase you in the exact opposite:
I like artistic and sculptural pots more than functional. I like the looks of artistic things better, I just plain like artistic pots more. And I judge pots very much on their artistic merit.

Interesting thing is: neither of us are right or wrong.





0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users