Shapes from Out of Nowhere: Ceramics from the Robert A. Ellison Jr. Collection celebrates an extraordinary gift of 125 modern and contemporary ceramics from Robert A. Ellison Jr., made to The Met in honor of the Museum’s 150th anniversary. The exhibition will present a selection of over 75 works from this unparalleled collection that charts the evolution of abstraction in clay from the second half of the twentieth century through the present.
The exhibition highlights the myriad approaches embraced by artists who have challenged the long history of clay and its reliance on the potter’s wheel—from slight deviations of traditional vessel forms to deconstructions that reject utility and exploit the boundless experimentation that clay affords. Mid-twentieth-century by artists Axel Salto, Ken Price, Toshiko Takaezu, Katherine Choy, Peter Voulkos, and Wing Ng, are seen alongside contemporary creations by Aneta Regel, Kathy Butterly, Syd Carpenter, and Lynda Benglis—artists who continue to expand the possibilities of the medium. Included in the exhibition are eight striking works by the late nineteenth-century artist George Ohr. These loans from Ellison’s private collection attest to Ohr’s radical vision and foreshadow the embrace of abstraction and nonrepresentational forms by artists in the 1950s and 60s.
Ellison’s extraordinary gift and this exhibition represent over forty years of collecting ceramics, a passion that eventually crystallized into the singular approach of nonrepresentational form in clay. Shapes from Out of Nowhere: Ceramics from the Robert A. Ellison Jr. Collection presents the work of forty-nine artists whose works reject any lingering ideas of medium-based hierarchies and celebrates artistic expression.