I'm diverging from my usual subject matter this week to praise one of my favorite artists, Kenneth Price, who died just over a week ago at his home in Taos. In the small ceramic sculptures that Price has been creating for the last several years, one notes above all the play between sensuous, playful, suggestive forms and a mottled, sickly surface. Each is a multivalent reference to nature and the body, or as Sarah Lehrer-Graiwer put it recently on the Artforum website, "they are snot, slug, serpent, squid, scrotum, and surf." They are also supreme examples of the transcendent possibilities of the crafted object. Here is what Price said in a recent issue of Artworks magazine:
"My primary satisfaction comes from making the work, and my idea of success is getting it to look right. So if it looks right, if it has some kind of presence or energy, or comes alive, or has magic--those are all visual things, and it's very hard to translate those into words."
There is a Price show on now at Kayne Griffin Corcoran in Santa Monica, and a career retrospective scheduled for LACMA in the fall.