Saturday, September 4, 2010

Beatrice Wood


My friend Hadley mentioned Beatrice Wood to me when we were planning our trip to Ojai. "Who's that ?", I asked?

Hadley informed me that Wood had been a ceramicist, and that she had been affiliated with the Dadaists and Surrealists. That she had had a studio in Ojai. That she wore saris and lots of silver jewelry.
I vaguely recalled this photo from one of Heather's posts on Ojai.

Well. The cabin that we stayed in happened to be filled with original work by Wood. Drawings, little sculptures, ceramic plates.
The countertop in the kitchen was made from tile produced by Wood. On the evening of my 37th birthday, we watched the documentary on VHS that they had in the cabin library: The Mama of Dada. I read all of the books on her in the cabin.
I was hooked.

Mostly, I think because Wood was a late bloomer. She did not even start making pottery until she was about 40 years old. She lived to be 105. She was honestly one of those people, like Audrey Hepburn, or Georgia O' Keeffe, who as they aged, became even more beautiful.

Her ceramics are sublime. The glazes, the forms. They look like ancient artifacts, but you can see her influence today on designers from Jonathan Adler to Arielle de Pinto.

The images above are all from this book on Wood by Garth Clark.

Also from Clark's book:

Usually when she was asked about her philosophy and the secret to her long life, she playfully responded with one of her standard ripostes; "art books, chocolates, and young men." Surely these are the ingredients to a certain frisson in her life, but in an interview in 1986 with the
Los Angeles Times, she explained her philosophy of life differently and with a remarkable economy: "The Japanese have these little [poems]- what do you call them?-yes, haiku.
This is mine. The first sentence is, 'Now,' which I firmly believe in. Everything's in the present. I try to run my business, pay my bills, keep my appointments, do all of it squarely in the now. The second sentence is, 'Shit,' because nothing really matters. That's
really profound. The third sentence is, 'I do not know.' That's the whole philosophy."


jane said...

now i think i´m hooked too! thanks for this lovely post jennifer.
p.s. hi!

Jennifer said...

I didn't know of Wood before your post, but she sounds like a spitfire! I love the glazes on the pieces you show here... metallic, colorful, iridescent, beautiful.

Katie said...

yeah, I like that movie too. showed it in my art history class a few years ago and they couldn't get past the cheesy video effects, but whatever. SMMoA is doing a survey of her work next fall! Will be good--early NY dada work and later ceramics, too.

Melissa Kojima said...

Hello Jennifer, I came across your blog looking for Beatrice Wood images. She has a huge retrospective at the Santa Monica Museum of Art right now until March 2012. I'm volunteering there and helped with the opening reception. I too am enamored with her. Thanks for writing this lovely post. Melissa