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Peter Voulkos (American, 1924-2002)

Sculptures

Birth Place: Bozeman, MT USA

Biography:

Who is sculptor Peter Voulkos?

Peter Voulkos was an American sculptor best known for his abstract expressionist ceramic sculptures. Peter Voulkos was an innovator. He elevated ceramics from craft to fine art with his large-scale abstract sculptures. Voulkos pushed the limits of the medium in size, technique, and style and broke down barriers for future generations of ceramicists. In addition to his many artistic achievements, Voulkos is a renowned educator. He was one of the founders of the ceramics department at the Los Angeles County Art Institute as well as at UC Berkeley. He received numerous prizes and awards throughout his career, some of the most prestigious include the Rodin Museum Prize in 1959, a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1984, and a Distinguished Artist Award for Lifetime Achievement from the College Art Association.

His work has found many fans in the high art world, and his pieces have been included in several prestigious public collections. You can find sculptures by Voulkos at the American Museum of Ceramic Art in Pomona, the National Gallery of Victoria in Australia, the Metropolitan Museum of Arm, and the MoMA in New York City.

What kind of art did Peter Voulkos make?

Peter Voulkos was a sculptor who overwhelmingly worked in ceramic to make abstract expressionist sculptures. While critics often were divided on his different periods, most agree that it falls between the ceramic and fine art traditions. Voulkos was a student of Peter Callas, one of the people instrumental in bringing Japanese wood-firing aesthetics to the United States. This early mentorship was extremely important in Voulkos’ artistry, who was encouraged to think of ceramics as more than just a utilitarian form. Voulkos experimented with stoneware as well, creating intense, large pieces -- most famously Noodle (1996) which currently resides at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

How did painter Peter Voulkos get started?

Peter Voulkos was born in 1924, the third of five children. His parents were both immigrants. Voulkos loved art at an early age, starting in high school. He moved away to the west coast, enticed by an apprenticeship at a ship’s foundry in Portland. He spent the early 1940s working as an airplane gunner during World War II. When Voulkos returned, he began studying painting and printmaking at Montana State College in Bozeman. It was there that the young artist would be introduced to ceramics, which quickly enveloped his life. He got an MFA from the California College of the Arts and Crafts, following that with a fellowship at the Archie Bray Foundation for the Ceramic Arts in 1951.

How much are Peter Voulkos sculptures worth?

Peter Voulkos sculptures can be worth anywhere from $5,000 all the way up to $900,000. His work is extremely popular, due to its aesthetic appeal and its historical significance -- Voulkos was one of the premier American ceramic artists working during the 20th century. That, plus his beloved status as one of the biggest proponents of ceramics has led to a large demand for his work. The most ever paid for a Peter Voulkos sculpture at auction is $915,000 for the piece Rondena (1958) which was sold on December 12th, 2017. It’s a large stoneware piece, typical of some of Voulkos best, and most desirable, work.

Where to buy Peter Voulkos sculptures for sale?

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How to value Peter Voulkos sculptures?

The best way to value art is to compare past auction prices for similar works. View past sale prices below. When you’re ready to sell, contact Heritage Auctions to request an auction estimate of the likely selling price at auction. If you need a formal written appraisal for estate planning or insurance, please contact our Appraisal Services department.


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