For Immediate Release: March 28, 2017
Contact: Susan Strano, Marketing Director
802-447-1571 ext. 204
Stanley Rosen (b. 1926)
Untitled, RC160, 2013
Unglazed stoneware, 11 1/4 × 15 × 6 1/2 inches
Courtesy of the Artist
Stanley Rosen (b. 1926)
Untitled, RC42, 1962
Unglazed stoneware, 16 x 8 x 8 inches
Collection of Kenji Fujita and Vivian Heller
Holding the Line: Ceramic Sculptures by Stanley Rosen
A Leading Light of American Ceramic Art
In the late 1950s, through the 1960s, Stanley Rosen rose to prominence, alongside the likes of Peter Voulkos, John Mason and Ken Price, as one of the most dynamic artists working in the media of ceramics, which was experiencing nothing short of a revolution. During the last 40-plus years he has focused on his role as teacher (Bennington College 1960-1991) and maker of a unique, evocative body of abstract ceramic sculptures, rarely exhibiting or publishing his work. As a result, his important body of abstract ceramic sculptures have been seen by few. This exhibition and accompanying catalog of the same name, shines a much deserved light on an important body of work created between the late 1950s up to the last few years and seeks to reestablish Rosen as one of the most innovative, under recognized figures in American ceramic art during the last six decades. Holding the Line: Ceramic Sculpture by Stanley Rosen displays a wide selection of his sculptures and drawings and will be on view through May 21. This exhibition will travel to Alfred Ceramic Art Museum at Alfred University and be on view there October 19 through December 30, 2017.
Rosen earned a BFA at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) and an MFA at Alfred University, America’s most respected academic program for the study of ceramics from the early twentieth century until the present day. From 1956 to 1960, he was a teacher and studio manager at Greenwich House Pottery, where he worked alongside many of the leaders in the contemporary ceramic world, including Peter Voulkos. Working with clay, he revels in its unique qualities and its rooted historical traditions. But he is not a stereotypical potter. He took p
art in what became known as the Abstract Expressionist ceramics movement from the mid-1950s to the 1960s. This movement was defined by a shift from making functional objects, plates, bowls, pitchers, towards more abstract ceramic sculptures. He later taught at Bennington College between 1960 and 1991 where he led the ceramics department and inspired a generation of ceramic artists.
In spite of his credentials and the emotive qualities of plastic form explored in his sculpture, he – like many other ceramic artists of the period – was never quite accepted by the progressive fine arts community. Clay is a universal sculpture medium. However, in the realm of “fine art” it is typically used as a means to an end, such as a model from which a mold can be made to cast a bronze. Clay itself has historically been sneered at by the artistic establishment. Rosen however made clay and all its material possibilities central to his work. He rarely glazed or painted his sculptures, feeling that such surface treatments deaden the inherent qualities of clay, especially its often subtle gritty texture.
Sculpture and Architecture – A Deep Connection
Rosen is very interested in and sees a deep connection between his sculptures and architecture, especially “primitive” architecture, such as rough-hewn rural shacks, mud huts, and, especially, pre-historic stone structures like Stonehenge and the less famous, but for him more personally significant, fort-like structures built by the Nuragian people of Sardinia. These Nuragian buildings are constructed from lightly worked, round boulders, each maintaining their individuality in relation to the whole. One can see similarities in Rosen’s sculptures whether it be small pinches of clay or small, log-like rolls, when brought together they make up constructions. Though Rosen did not encounter nuraghi until much later in his life, the artist has been making sculptures that have clear parallels with the Nuragian forts since the late 1950s. “The connection is not a matter of influence or inspiration, but rather a confirmation of a shared ethos.” states Franklin in his essay.
Like the artist, Rosen’s creations do not scream out to be looked at, but instead, with their earthy, raw and, gritty surfaces wait patiently to be celebrated by those who have the good fortune to view them. One cannot understand Rosen’s work until they stand in front of it and see the result of his determination and commitment to material and process. So, Holding the Line? The title of the exhibition was inspired by the movie The Gladiator and the essay The Tightrope Walker by Jean Genet. For Rosen it represents the uncompromising commitment that the artist must have at the site of creation, which demands focus, effort, perseverance, and balance.
About the Museum
Bennington Museum is located at 75 Main Street (Route 9), Bennington, in The Shires of Vermont. The museum is open 10 am to 5 pm Thursday through Tuesday in March through May, and daily June through October. It is wheelchair accessible. Regular admission is $10 for adults, $9 for seniors and students over 18. Admission is never charged for younger students, museum members, or to visit the museum shop. Visit the museum’s website www.benningtonmuseum.org or call 802-447-1571 for more information.
Bennington Museum is close to other notable art and culture destinations, including Usdan Gallery at Bennington College (10 minutes), The Clark Art Institute and Williams College Museum of Art(20 minutes), and MassMoCA (25minutes). Visit Artcountry.org for more information.