Frank Lloyd Gallery - Modern and Contemporary Ceramic Art   current exhibit archive news artists publications about contact home
The work of Paul Soldner (b. 1921) is endlessly evolving.The artist, who is also a teacher, potting equipment manufacturer, and father, never ceases to push his discipline in new directions.Now in his 80’s, he continues to work and teach, always ready to share his wisdom about life, creativity, and of course, clay.

Soldner made his first attempts at working with clay when, during undergraduate work at Bluffton College in Bluffton, Ohio, he built his own potter’s wheel and experimented with throwing pots.Years later, while working towards an M.A. in art education at the University of Colorado, Boulder, a ceramics class with Katie Horsman, a talented potter and teacher from Scotland, furthered his interest in the medium.Soon he imagined a future as a rural studio potter.Seeking further technical instruction, he heard that a potter named Peter Voulkos, who had been winning awards in national exhibitions, had just been invited to establish a ceramics program at the Los Angeles County Art Institute (later Otis Art Institute).Soldner became Voulkos’ first student, and Voulkos became Soldner’s most influential teacher in the formative, now legendary years that followed.

With Voulkos as a teacher, the classroom became a studio, and student and instructor worked together as equals.Voulkos adopted Soldner’s method for building potter’s wheels, and Soldner watched Voulkos throw at the wheel, inspired by his open, demonstration based teaching methods.Voulkos encouraged experimentation and independence among his students, an attitude that soon attracted a wide variety of artists to the program.Joined by emerging ceramists like John Mason, Ken Price, Mac McClain, and Billy Al Bengston, the lively community that formed began to revolutionize the medium of clay.While Voulkos experimented with moving the vessel beyond its traditional functionality, Soldner pursued new throwing techniques that allowed him to throw pots four to six feet high, a new scale for the ceramic vessel.During these years Soldner gained confidence as an artist, and a future of producing functional pots faded from his mind.

After four years at the Institute, Solder was ready to separate himself from Voulkos’ strong influence.Taking a teaching position at Scripps College in Claremont, CA, allowed him to set out on his own, building a ceramics program modeled on Voulkos’ demonstration based studio/classroom, but very much his own.He continued his innovative equipment design, working with his students to build new potter’s wheels and kilns, and in 1960 he began a series of experiments with Raku ware, a style of ceramic production that differed dramatically from anything being made in the United States at the time.Soldner’s experiences with Raku, a spontaneous process that forced him to relinquish some control over his work, helped him understand the form of the ceramic vessel in a new way.He moved away from the conventional principles of symmetry and western vessel proportions and began to produce asymmetrical, fluid forms.

With his work in Raku gaining recognition, Soldner soon found that he was in demand in the workshop circuit.He began traveling to universities across the country to demonstrate his art, blending traditional throwing with new, unexpected techniques, and always involving his students in the learning process.He continued to expand the boundaries of his own work, incorporating the figure, salt glazing techniques, and ever-changing forms.Now revered as an innovative teacher and master in clay, Soldner’s skills are in demand across the globe.Students of all types relish the opportunity to attend a Soldner workshop, where they know they will work side by side with a man who generously shares his knowledge and inspiration while pushing them to find their own paths, both in clay and in life.


1992     Westminster College, Honorary Dr. of Fine Arts, New Wilmington, Pennsylvania
1956     Otis Art Institute, MFA, Los Angeles
1954     University of Colorado, Massachusetts, Boulder, Colorado
1946     Bluffton College, BA, Bluffton, Ohio

Museum Collections

American Craft Museum, New York
Arizona State University Art Museum, Tempe
Arkansas Art Center, Little Rock
Australian National Gallery, Sydney
Charles A. Wustum Museum of Fine Arts, Racine, Wisconsin
Charles H. MacNider Museum, Mason City, Iowa
Chubb Insurance Company, New York
Coca Cola Corporate Art Collection, Atlanta, GA
Everson Museum of Art, Syracuse, New York
Fine Arts Museum of the South, Mobile, Alabama
Florida Keys Community College Library Collection, Key West
Franz Hals Museum, Amsterdam, Holland
Fred Marer Ceramic Collection, Scripps College, Claremont, CA
The High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA
J.B. Speed Museum of Art, Louisville, Kentucky
John Michael Kohler Arts Center, Sheboygan, Wisconsin
Johnson Wax Corporation Art Collection, Racine, Wisconsin
The Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Lowe Art Gallery, Miami
Museum of Ceramic Art, Alfred, New York
National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto, Japan
Oakland Art Museum, California
Packaging Corporation of America, Evanston, Illinois
Prudential Life Insurance Company Corporation, New York
Seattle Art Museum, Washington
Smithsonian Museum, National Collection, Washington, DC
The Smit’s Collection, Los Angeles County Museum of Art
State Foundation on Culture and the Arts, Honolulu
The State Museum of Fine Art, Riga, Lativa
Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taipei, Taiwan
US News and World Report Corporation Art Collection, Washington, DC
Victoria & Albert Museum of Art, London

Selected Solo Exhibitions

2004     Frank Lloyd Gallery, Santa Monica
2001     Paul Soldner: The Last Ten Years, The Canton Museum of Art, Canton, Ohio
1999     Frank Lloyd Gallery, Santa Monica
1994     Paul Soldner: Raku, Raku Gallery, New York
            Paul Soldner Retrospective, Valdosta State University, Valdosta, Georgia
1992     Paul Soldner: A Retrospective, Danforth Museum of Art, Logan, Utah
1991     Paul Soldner: A Retrospective, Scripps College, Claremont, California
            Louis Newman Gallery, Los Angeles
1990     The Art Works Gallery, Riverside, California
1989     Tallinn Exhibition Hall Gallery, Tallinn, Estonia
            Leah Ransburg Art Gallery, University of Indiana, Indianapolis
1988     Esther Saks Gallery, Chicago
            San Angelo Art Center, San Angelo, Texas
            Joan Hodgell Gallery, Sarasota, Florida
1987     Coleg Prifysgol Cymru, Aberystwth, Wales
            Patricia Moore Gallery, Aspen, Colorado
            El Camino Gallery of Art, Torrance, California
1986     Great American Gallery, Atlanta, Georgia
            Susan Cummins Gallery, Palo Alto, California
1985     Louis Newman Gallery, Los Angeles
            Maurine Littleton Gallery, Washington, DC
1983     Blackfriar Gallery, Sydney, Australia
1982     Galerie du Centre Genevois de L’Artisant, Geneva, Switzerland
            Hetjens Museum, Dusseldorf, W. Germany
            Thomas Segal Gallery, Boston
1981     Cantini Museum of Modern Art, Marseille, France
1978     Gallery Nagoya, Japan
            Renwick Gallery at the Smithsonian, Washington, DC