KEN PRICE: A CAREER SURVEY, 1961 - 2008

PARRASCH HEIJNEN, LOS ANGELES

January 30 - March 8, 2016

 

SO I SAID KENNY, WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE?
HOW DO YOU EXPECT TO BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY?
AND KENNY SAID "BILLY, I'M GOING FURTHEY DE
OUT
BY GOING FURTHEY DE
IN."
I LOOKED IN DISMAY AND SAID: YOU KNOW WHAT
YOU'RE DOING.
KENNY SAID: UH HUH
WITH THAT HE SHOWED ME.

BILLY
OCEAN PARK, CA
IN OUR STUDIO, 1959
(Billy Al Bengston, Venice, CA, 2015)

 

Franklin Parrasch and Christopher Heijnen are pleased to present Ken Price: A Career Survey, 1961 - 2008, the inaugural exhibition at Parrasch Heijnen Gallery, Los Angeles.

A legend amongst Los Angeles-based artists, Ken Price (1935-2012) is best known as a sculptor of abstract and sensual, biomorphic ceramic forms. The surfaces of Price's objects, which involved chromatic techniques so complex and adroitly achieved that they exist only in his sculptures, are so jarringly compelling and uniquely beautiful they challenge the viewer's concepts of beauty itself. His surfaces read like skins impregnated with color, generating chromatic tendencies that hearken everything from 1960s commercialism to otherworldly phenomena. 

As late artist and former Artforum Editor John Coplans eloquently commented on Price's enigmatic use of color in the March 20, 1964 issue of Art International:  "Price introduces color with such an acute choice it seems almost to shape the form. He does not follow any historical lines of logic ... but goes back into the deepest and most buried part of the human psyche in much the same way that Brancusi did, to invent form. Price is practically inventing color itself at this deep and most basic of levels."

This exhibition of two dozen works spanning 1961-2008, is a select survey focusing exclusively on Price's work in ceramic sculpture; included are key examples from throughout the artist's career, all of which have been generously loaned from private collections. The timeline of works includes examples from Price's first shows at the legendary Ferus Gallery (Los Angeles) in the early 1960s, and traces major shifts in the artist's work up to 2008 shortly after he was diagnosed with cancer. Their side-by-side relationships simultaneously illuminate Price's breadth and consistency, revealing gestures and nuances that appear and reappear throughout various moments in his oeuvre.

Price worked in a number of series, employing distinct idioms throughout the course of his fifty-plus year career. While these distinct bodies of work may initially appear unrelated, upon extended gaze, aesthetic connections reveal a familial language that once imprinted, establishes a lens through which all of Price's work can be absorbed. With this in mind, the works in this exhibition are displayed in groupings reflective of visual commonalities, avoiding chronological sequentiality. The selection of works as well as placement and exhibition design are respectful of Price's intuitive approach and strident eschewal of conventions in both his creative process and the view he had of his work's meaning.  

As critic/historian Lucy Lippard observed in her catalogue essay for the 1966 LACMA exhibition Robert Irwin/Kenneth Price:  "He [Price] is involved in a peculiarly contemporary dialectic, but he has deliberately read himself out of the vanguard race for innovation. His pace, like his morphology, is his own. He has chosen an idiom central to modern art in which the working decisions are flexible instead of fixed. There is in his work that   simultaneous commitment and detachment with the increasingly Oriental cast of Western thought, an unsentimental respect for the shiny armored surfaces of a luxury civilization as well as a precise and delicate awareness of the most elusive bonds between man and nature."

A native Angelino and son of an inventor, Ken Price knew from childhood that he would be an artist. While still in high school, Price studied drawing in the early 1950s at the Chouinard Art Institute, Los Angeles (now California Institute of the Arts) on a scholarship. He enrolled in his first ceramics class at Santa Monica City College in 1953, and went on to earn his BFA in 1954 from the University of Southern California. Price then joined a class led by Peter Voulkos at the Los Angeles County Art Institute (renamed Otis Art Institute, and now Otis College of Art and Design). There he encountered an energy and sense of mastery working alongside Voulkos that was both liberating and profoundly demanding.

In 1958 Price headed east to complete his MFA at the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University. In a storage unit at Alfred, Price accessed a trove of ceramics by revolutionary twentieth century Japanese artist Kitaoji Rosanjin, who was, in Price's words"a symbol for me of an artist making pottery." Mining the spirit of Rosanjin, as well as Voulkos' mantra "no rules no rules," Price went on to generate an independent genre of refined, small-scale ceramic sculpture.

Price returned to Los Angeles in 1959 where he first established a studio in Ocean Park with close friend and fellow Otis classmate Billy Al Bengston. Later, Price maintained a studio in an historic building in Venice Beach. In 2002, Price and his family moved to Arroyo Hondo, New Mexico where he established what he blithely referred to as his "luxury studio." Price died at his home in New Mexico in 2012 at the age of 77.

Over the past half-century, solo exhibitions of Price's work have been presented in numerous museums and institutions including the Whitney Museum of American Art(New York), the Harwood Museum of Art (Taos), and the Chinati Foundation (Marfa), among others. In 1992, The Menil Collection (Houston) organized Price's first major retrospective exhibition, curated by Walter Hopps, which traveled to the Walker Art Center (Minneapolis). In 2012, a comprehensive retrospective of Price's work, curated by Stephanie Barron, was presented at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and traveled to the Nasher Sculpture Center (Dallas), and the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York). In 2013-14, Price's drawings were the focus of a career survey exhibition entitled Slow and Steady Wins the Race, curated by Douglas Dreishpoon, which began at the Drawing Center(New York), then traveled to the Albright-Knox Art Gallery (Buffalo), and the Harwood Museum of Art (Taos).

Ken Price: A Career Survey, 1961 - 2008 is the twelfth Ken Price solo exhibition organized by Franklin Parrasch, and the inaugural exhibition at Parrasch Heijnen Gallery, Los Angeles. 

Ken Price: A Career Survey, 1961 - 2008 will be on view from January 30th - March 8th, 2016.  

Gallery Hours: Tuesday - Saturday from 11am - 6pm  

Parrasch Heijnen Gallery
1326 South Boyle Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90023
parrasch-heijnen.com

For further information on this exhibition please contact Parrasch Heijnen at info@ph-gallery.com or follow them on Instagram @parraschheijnen.

For Media Inquiries Contact: 

Jennifer Gross / Evolutionary Media Group / 323.658.8700  / Jennifer@emgpr.com