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Beatrice Wood
Beatrice Wood
Lustrous Life
May 25-Sept 2, 2021
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Beatrice Wood was well known for her lustrous, gleaming ceramics, produced in her Ojai studio in the later decades of her life.These pots have the other-worldly presence of ancient relics from a lost world, Atlantis perhaps. Their shapes derive from ceremony and their glazes dazzle the eye. But before her studio life as an artist, she had momentous experiences with major figures in the twentieth century art world, as well as leaders in the spiritual community. Her early mentors in the art world famously included Marcel Duchamp, while her experiences with the philosophical and religious world included Annie Besant and Krishnamurti. Beatrice learned from each of them, and led a charmed, lustrous life.

In her writings, a voice of perseverance and determination can be gleaned. An early statement by the artist is indicative: "Talent is not enough," Beatrice wrote in the 1940s, "everyone has it if released. It is desire, burning activity that leads one to the star. But in the journey of self expression, one must move with detachment drawn by the vision, unconcerned with the result. The vast spaces of the imaginative world are nebulous, but it requires discipline to bring them into actuality. If the clay on the potter's wheel is not centered, the pot collapses. Thus the physical plane leads to the spiritual."

Raised in New York by proper, aristocratic parents, by the age of 16 Wood felt stifled by the mores of high society and yearned to run away to Paris, where she planned to spend the rest of her days painting in a garret. Her mother, desperate to prevent all-out rebellion, finally sent her wily daughter on a chaperoned trip to France, where Wood studied acting at the Comedie Franšaise and painting at the Academie Julien. Forced to return to New York by the advent of the war, the nineteen year old Wood soon found a place among the growing expatriate artist community there. She met Marcel Duchamp and his friend, writer and diplomat Henri Roche, and the three formed a close friendship. Together they founded the magazine Blind Man, one of the first manifestations of the Dada art movement in New York. They also frequented avant garde gatherings, spending many lively evenings at the home of collectors Walter and Louise Arsenberg, whose walls were hung with works by Picasso, Matisse and Braque.