Viola Frey

Viola Frey Glazed Ceramic Figural Group Foundation Authenticated Contemporary Sculpture

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Artist: Viola Frey
Title: Untitled
Medium: Glazed Ceramic
Size: 23" x 14" x 28"
Year: 1998
Condition: Very good quality with no damage or restoration
Documentation: Includes Gallery Certificate of Authenticity; full record of provenance; catalog documentation from the artist's Legacy Foundation

American sculptor Viola Frey is considered one of the pioneers of contemporary ceramics. Through monumental sculptures, ceramic figurines, paintings, and works on paper, her work explored gender dynamics, power structures, and culture. Characteristic delineated fault lines of her interlocking ceramics with vibrant glazes served as a social critique.

Frey used an abstract painting style in her ceramics. This unique approach highlighted the unusual color relationships in her glazing techniques. She used bright and almost garish colors to heighten the tension in her artworks. Her innovative use of color theory gave ceramic and bronze work new meaning.

Untitled (Figural Group) is an example of an assemblage of various figures. The piece incorporates different pieces bound together to create an amalgamation of forms. Frey often collected small ceramic figurines from the flea markets near her home in Oakland. Considering herself a bricoleur, junk accumulator, she reinterpreted collectibles with her personal experience and philosophical ideas. She molded her flea market finds and remade them in her style to create groupings of different pieces. Her process often consisted of creating a figure only to saw it into pieces for the firing and glazing processes and later rejoin them.

Untitled (Figural Group) includes catalog documentation from the artist's Legacy Foundation. The artwork is of very good quality with no damage or restoration.

About Violet Frey

Viola Frey was born in Lodi, California in 1933. Her academic career took her to many institutions, including the Stockton College in California, the California College of Arts and Crafts, and Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana. While at Tulane, Frey studied under esteemed artists including Mark Rothko and George Rickey. She began her art career as a billing clerk at The Museum of Modern Art in New York, NY before teaching ceramics at the California College of Arts and Crafts in 1965 where she stayed until 1999.

Frey began exhibiting her work in 1961, and while she was proficient in mediums ranging from painting to sculpture, her innovative ceramic work became her calling card. Her ceramics gained recognition for their unique glaze applications, precision knick-knack-like details, and impressive scale. Viola Frey pushed the boundaries of what was thought possible in the world of ceramics. Clay was often considered substandard to fine art in mid-century America, but by fusing ceramics with elements of pop art and abstract expression Frey moved the medium forward. She used her art as an important form of social commentary, exploring themes of gender identity, culture, and history.

Frey's artwork has been displayed at the Whitney in New York City, the Museum of Ceramic Art in Japan, and the Butler Institute of American Art in Ohio. The artist passed away in 2004.

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