Betty Woodman

WS- Betty Woodman
Betty Woodman, in collaboration with The Fabric Workshop and Museum, Philadelphia, Window, 1980. Pigment, thread, velcro on cotton, canvas, sateen, and earthenware. 62 x 75 inches. Collection of The Fabric Workshop and Museum. Photo credit: Phillip Unetic.
Betty Woodman is internationally recognized as one of the most important contemporary ceramic artists. Through her inventive use of color and form and her expert blend of a wide range of influences, she created exuberant and captivating ceramic sculpture. Employing many forms, from fragmented wall vases to bronze benches to pillow pitchers, she presented a delightful gathering of influences and traditions. Woodman traveled extensively, finding inspiration in cultures around the world.
Drawing no boundaries between traditions of fine art and craft, Woodman took elements from the rich heritage of each to make them her own. She used the motif of the vase and the vessel repeatedly, allowing it to enrich her exploration of formal and painterly traditions:
The centrality of the vase in my work is certainly a reference to a global perspective on art history and production. The container is a universal symbol—it holds and pours all fluids, stores foods, and contains everything from our final remains to flowers. The vase motif connects what I do to all aspects of art. I can mix the motifs of a classic Greek vase on one side of a triptych with the details of a Japanese print on the other all conveyed with a palette based on the hues of a recollected Hindu temple.

Artist Bio

American, 1930-2018.  

Born in Norwalk, Connecticut, Betty Woodman was a leading American ceramicist. She graduated with a degree in pottery from the School for American Craftsmen at Alfred University in 1950. Her career took off in the 1970s when her approach became more colorful and whimsical in conversation with her peers in the Pattern and Decoration movement. Her work has been shown internationally in France, Italy, Holland, and Japan. Retrospectives of Woodman’s work have taken place at the Institute of Contemporary Art, London (2016); Museo Marino Marini, Florence (2015); the American Academy in Rome (2010); and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (2006). Woodman was a two-time recipient of the National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship (1980, 1986) and a guest artist at the Manufacture National de Sevres in France.