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.

Timeline

1935
Born in Los Angeles, CA
1956
BFA, University of Southern California
1957
Los Angeles County Art Institute, Los Angeles, CA
1959
MFA, NY State College of Ceramics at Alfred University
Lives and works in Venice, CA and Taos, NM

Exhibitions

2009
"Time & Place: Los Angeles, 1958-1968", Kunsthaus Zürich, Switzerland
2008
"Time & Place: Los Angeles, 1958-1968", Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Sweden
1998–1999
Franklin Parrasch Gallery New York, NY
1998–1999
Clay Into Art: Selections from the Collection of Contemp. Ceramics in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art New York, NY
1998
Biomorphic Abstraction, Curt Marcus Gallery New York, NY
1997
Image, Plate, Vessel, Franklin Parrasch Gallery New York, NY
1997
L.A. Louver Gallery Venice, CA
1994
L.A. Louver Gallery Venice, CA
1992
Charles Cowles Gallery New York, NY
1991
James Corcoran Gallery Los Angeles, CA
1991
Selectionsfrom the Permanent Collection, Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles, CA
1989
Rena Bransten Gallery San Francisco, CA
1984
An International Survey of Recent Painting and Sculpture, The Museum of Modern Art (catalog) New York, NY
1984
Gemini G.E.L., Art and Collaboration, National Gallery of Art (catalog) Washington, DC