Exhibit focuses on contemporary ceramics

— "Color and Fire: Defining Moments in Studio Ceramics, 1950-2000," a new exhibition at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, 4420 Warwick Blvd., features works by the leading innovators in ceramics, including Robert Arneson, Ken Ferguson, Beatrice Wood and Peter Voulkos.

Although highly individual, the artists' works share the common elements of color, fire and earth.

The exhibition, on view through March 4, surveys the history of ceramics during the second half of the 20th century. The show's more than 200 works are drawn from the permanent collection of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and is the first comprehensive survey of its collection of ceramic art.

The works on display chronicle significant episodes and encounters in the field of ceramics from mid-century to the millennium. The objects vary from the classical to the cutting-edge, and include intimately scaled, beautifully profiled pots, weighty sculptural pots and monumental freestanding sculptures.

The field of studio ceramics developed early in the 20th century, when artists began to work with clay in their studios. Forming, glazing and firing clay themselves, they mastered the challenges of chemistry and physics and exploited clay's plasticity. The years 1950-2000 have witnessed a fertile period when ceramists have investigated an unlimited range of influences, styles and ideas.

Activities scheduled in conjunction with the exhibition include a film festival of documentaries on ceramic art from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Jan. 14, 21 and 28 and Feb. 4; and "Family Day: Terrific Tiles," hands-on experimentation with clay and demonstrations by clay artists, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Feb. 18.

After its display at the Kemper, the exhibition will travel to the Tucson Museum of Art in Arizona and the Memorial Art Gallery at the University of Rochester in New York.

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