Studio Sunday: Peter Voulkos

A photo of Peter Voulkos in his art studio


In this week’s Studio Sunday we’ll look at the studio of Peter Voulkos. Voulkos, born Panagiotis Voulkos to Greek parents in Bozeman, Montana, became a renowned ceramicist during the American Abstract Expressionist period. He was known in particular for large-scale clay sculptures that featured a rough, heavy aesthetic with ample evidence of the artist’s hand.


For a period of time, Voulkos shared his studio with fellow artist and sculptor Ben Mason, who can be seen on the right-hand side of the bottom image. Both artists had an affinity for large-scale ceramic and clay projects with a certain kind of rough appearance. The studio space seems to speak directly to the huge level of energy that was present in the works – it looks as though many days here were spent roughly handling clay, smashing it against surfaces and against other, earlier constructions to create the abstracted and sharp forms that Voulkos was so fond of.


It would probably create a very interesting dynamic to share a studio with someone whose style of work was so similar to yours. I wonder if Mason and Voulkos ever traded ideas, or helped one another with a specific piece.


In the above photo, Voulkos is working on a large abstract painting – a bit of a departure from the works that he is best known for, though not entirely out of his wheelhouse. In this painting, one can again see the immense levels of energy and presence in the artist’s work and overall practice – it seemed that Voulkos was ever-present as an artist, even in works long completed.


Voulkos died in 2002, and his work now resides in museum collections throughout the United States, Europe, and Australia, as well as in private collections around the world. 


A diptych photo of Peter Voulkos and John Mason in their shared studio in the 1950s

[image source 1]

[image source 2]


Written by: Dallas Jeffs
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