Warren Mackenzie, perhaps the most famous functional potter in the world, was born in Kansas City, Missouri in 1924. MacKenzie trained as a painter at the Art Institute of Chicago before the war. Returning to find the painting classes filled, he joined a ceramic class. He and his first wife Alix, also a potter, were the first American apprentices of Bernard Leach, the noted British potter who wrote the seminal “A Potter’s Book”.
Lucy Lacoste Gallery is pleased to present Warren MacKenzie: Pattern and Line in our Concord gallery andon our website May 9 – 30. It has been our honor to represent Mr. MacKenzie since 2002, and we’ve had the pleasure of showing his work many times. For this carefully edited exhibition, we focused on the decorating styles of the artist. Included are museum quality examples of Mr. MacKenzie’s abstract surface decoration via pours of glaze, brushes, cardboard, as well as wheels and combs. It includes archival material from the peak of the artist’s career, as well as some pieces from the last years of the late master’s life (1924 -2018).
At the core of the exhibition are Mackenzie’s large platters, displayed on the wall like paintings. “Black Platter with White Pours” shows his genius at abstraction. Two large platters from the late 1990’s, both entitled “Grey with Iron Slip Trailing”, show his inspiration from Japan. There are platters with marks from the artist fingers as he wiped his hand through glaze; two platters “Shino with Iron Marks” and “Shino with Iron Stamping” show the artist’s elemental approach, inspired by African art.
Warren had a collection of over 50 tools collected from his travels around the world. These lead to a variety of patterning such as the marks from a child’s tractor toy on his drop rim bowls. “Tall Shino Vessel with Ears”, from 2010, has a deep texture which enrichens it from one of such tools. There are pieces with splatters, brush painting and embossing.