Ken Price (American, February 16, 1935–February 24, 2012) was a ceramic artist and printmaker, well-known for his Abstract clay figures and prints. Price was born and raised in Los Angeles, CA. He knew from an early age that he wanted to be an artist, and enrolled in his first art ceramics class at Santa Monica City College in 1954. He quickly became a fan of the formal craft techniques of Marguerite Wildenhain (French, 1896–1985). Later, Price attended the Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles, and received a BFA from the University of Southern California in 1956. He went on to earn an MFA from New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University in 1959.
Price developed his interest in Mexican pottery while living along the Pacific coast in the 1950s. Much of his work at USC was characterized by the functionality that he found while visiting curio shops during surfing trips along the coast. Price developed his unique glazing techniques while at Alfred University. Returning to California in 1960, Price became a part of the developing Los Angeles Contemporary Art scene that included Larry Bell (American, b. 1939), John Altoon (American, 1925–1969), and Robert Irwin (American, b.1928). His first show was held at the Ferus Gallery.
Over the years, Price became known for his use of colors and odd shapes in the sculpting of cups, and he eventually progressed to larger pieces. Using his love of Folk Art and whimsy, Ken Price produced a well-known brightly-hued body of work entitled Happy's Curios (1978). The work drew heavily on his appreciation of the low Folk Art of coastal California towns as well as Taos, NM, where had relocated. During this time period, Ken also created his Geometric Cup Series (1970s). In his later years, Price returned to California and was a professor at USC in the art and ceramics department. Price moved away from cups, and, at the time of his death, he was primarily working in larger Abstract forms. In honor of the artist, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art has one of his final works, Zizi (2011) on display in the lobby of its Ahmanson building. Price's works can be found at many museums around the country, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, NY, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, CA.