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  John
Mason
John Mason is an important figure in American sculpture, particularly that of the West Coast. Born in Madrid, Nebraska in 1927 and raised in Fallon, Nevada, Mason moved to Los Angeles in 1949 at the age of 22. He first enrolled at the Los Angeles Art Institute (now Otis) and then studied with Susan Peterson at the Chouinard Art Institute. In 1954, the Los Angeles Art Institute hired Peter Voulkos to head the ceramics department. Mason worked with Voulkos and others in the ceramics studios at night, and worked independently during the day.

By 1957, Mason and Voulkos moved to a new studio that they shared on Glendale Blvd. During the period of 1957-1965, Mason focused on exploring the physical properties of clay—its possibilities as well as its limitations as a medium. He constantly experimented with his material’s plasticity, pushing clay to its technical limits and developing innovative firing techniques.

The artist then diversified his output, producing tall vertical sculptures, huge wall reliefs, cross forms and geometric shapes. Symmetry, rotation, mass, and the integration of color and form came to characterize his work, and are some of the sustaining concepts of his career. Although Mason does not consciously draw on identifiable sources in his work, he does recall an interest in primitive art, a fact which is manifested in the mysterious and totemic quality of many of his pieces.

Mason's work over the past six decades presents one of the most compelling arguments for abstract sculpture. His line of thought and consistency of execution are the hallmarks of a true artist, motivated by his desire to push his creative explorations even further. Suzanne Muchnic, writing for ArtNews, describes his position in the art world thusly;

“A major figure in ceramic sculpture, Mason emerged in the mid-1950s as one of the leaders of a revolution that transformed clay from a craft to a fine art medium… In his latest work, Mason has proved himself a master builder and sculptor who knows how to get the most out of a relatively simple three dimensional form.”

John Mason’s innovations in the field of ceramic sculpture opened the art world’s eyes to the possibilities of the medium. His process-based method of working emphasized the clay and what he could do with it, as he pushed to material well past conventional limits and tradition. John Coplans illustrates this point, writing, “he is not only capable of endowing his massive images with a rich complexity of associative values, but in helping to free ceramics from its long tradition of vessel form and intimate scale he has persuasively demonstrated the flexibility of a hitherto limited material.”

John Mason continues to live and work in Los Angeles, California. Since the late 1950s, when he exhibited at the legendary Ferus Gallery, Mason has had one-man shows at the Pasadena Museum of Art (1960 and 1974), the Los Angeles County Museum (1966), the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (1978), and the Hudson River Museum (1978), among others. His work is represented in numerous major museum collections, including the Norton Simon Museum of Art, Pasadena, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.




Education

Otis Art Institute, Los Angeles, California
Chouinard Art Institute, Los Angeles, California

Museum Collections

Aichi Prefectural Ceramic Museum, Nagoya, Japan
The Anderson Collection at Stanford University, Stanford, California
Arizona State University Art Museum, Tempe, Arizona
Arkansas Art Center, Little Rock, Arkansas
Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Chicago Art Institute, Chicago, Illinois
City of Boise, Boise, Idaho
Daum Museum of Contemporary Art, Sedalia, Missouri
Everson Museum of Art, Syracuse, New York
Gifu Prefectural Museum, Seki City, Japan
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, California
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Museum of Arts and Design, New York
Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, California
Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, La Jolla, California
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas
National Museum of History, Republic of China, Taipei, Taiwan
The National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto, Japan
Nelson-Atkins Museum, Kansas City, Missouri
Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art, Utah State University, Logan, Utah
Norton Simon Museum of Art, Pasadena, California
Oakland Museum, Oakland, California
Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach, California
Pomona College, Claremont, California
Racine Art Museum, Racine, Wisconsin
Renwick Gallery, National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institute,                
       Washington D.C.
Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery, Scripps College, Claremont, California
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, California
Sheppard Fine Arts Gallery, University of Nevada, Reno, Nevada
Shigaraki Ceramic Cultural Park, The Museum of Contemporary Ceramic Art, Shiga
       Prefecture, Japan
State of California, Sacramento, California
Wichita Art Institute, Wichita, Kansas
World Ceramic Center, Ichon, Korea

Selected Solo Exhibitions

2013     Crosses, Figures, Spears, Torques, David Kordansky Gallery, Los Angeles,
                California  
            Blue Wall, Laguna Art Museum, Laguna Beach, California
2010     New Wall Reliefs, Frank Lloyd Gallery, Santa Monica, California
2008     Recent Sculpture, Frank Lloyd Gallery, Santa Monica, California
2007     Stremmel Gallery, Reno, Nevada
            Sculpture 1973 and 2006, Frank Lloyd Gallery, Santa Monica, California
2006     Holter Museum, Helena, Montana
2005     New Work, Frank Lloyd Gallery, Santa Monica, California
2004     Sheppard Fine Arts Gallery, University of Nevada, Reno, Nevada
            Franklin Parrasch Gallery, New York
2002     Frank Lloyd Gallery, Santa Monica, California
2000     X Wall, Frank Lloyd Gallery, Santa Monica, California
            Perimeter Gallery, Chicago, Illinois
1999     Frank Lloyd Gallery, Santa Monica, California
1998     Frank Lloyd Gallery, Santa Monica, California
            Perimeter Gallery, Chicago, Illinois
1997     Frank Lloyd Gallery, Santa Monica, California
1995     Habatat/Shaw Gallery, Pontiac, Michigan
            Perimeter Gallery, Chicago, Illinois
1994     Garth Clark Gallery, Los Angeles, California
1993     Garth Clark Gallery, New York
1992     Garth Clark Gallery, Los Angeles, California
1991     Garth Clark Gallery, Los Angeles, California
1990     Garth Clark Gallery, New York
1987     Rena Bransten Gallery, San Francisco, California
1986     L.A. Louver Gallery, Venice, California
1981     Max Hutchinson Gallery, New York
1979     University of Nevada, Reno, Nevada
            Wright State University, Dayton, Ohio
            Minneapolis College of Art & Design, Minneapolis, Minnesota
            California State University at Long Beach, California
            University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky
1978     University Art Museum, University of Texas, Austin, Texas
            San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, California
            Minneapolis Institute of Art, Minneapolis, Minnesota
            Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
            Des Moines Art Center, Des Moines, Iowa
            Hudson River Museum, Yonkers, New York
1976     Hansen Fuller Gallery, San Francisco, California
1974     Pasadena Museum of Modern Art, Pasadena, California
1966     Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, California
1963     Ferus Gallery, Los Angeles, California
1961     Ferus Gallery, Los Angeles, California
1960     Pasadena Art Museum, Pasadena, California
1959     Ferus Gallery, Los Angeles, California
1957     Ferus Gallery, Los Angeles, California
            Oregon Ceramic Studio, Portland, Oregon
1956     Gump’s Gallery, San Francisco, California