Dec. 18 Art Minute: Jack Earl, “Sculptural Container in the Shape of a Farmhouse”

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Jack Earl (American, born 1934), Sculptural Container in the Shape of a Farmhouse. White porcelain, glazed, about 1974–77. H. 12 in., W. 11 in. Gift of Mr. John B. Bell, by exchange, 2009.20a–b. Glass Pavilion Gallery 2

Jack Earl (American, born 1934), Sculptural Container in the Shape of a Farmhouse. White porcelain, glazed, about 1974–77. H. 12 in., W. 11 in. Gift of Mr. John B. Bell, by exchange, 2009.20a–b. Glass Pavilion Gallery 2

Born in Uniopolis, Ohio, Jack Earl worked as an art education and ceramics teacher at the Toledo Museum of Art, where he was inspired by the fantastic and sensual porcelain figures of the French Rococo style. Unlike 18th-century Rococo porcelain, however, Earl’s sculptures are not idealized but startlingly real—e even surreal, representations of Midwest American life, such as this Federal-style Midwest farmhouse. Created during Earl’s residency at the Kohler factory’s Art/Industry Program, Sculptural Container is made from the same industrial porcelain and low-fire ceramics used to make plumbing ware. By working with engineers and industrial craftsmen to render a mundane image in an everyday material, Earl transforms the European ceramic tradition into a modern American idiom.


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