Warren MacKenzie: Legacy of an American Potter

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Warren MacKenzie: Legacy of an American Potter

51 Yerba Buena Lane
San Francisco, CA 94103
June 11th, 2009 - September 13th, 2009

(415) 227-4888
Museum of Craft and Folk Art
modern, sculpture
Free the First Tuesday of every month;

Warren MacKenzie: Legacy of an American Potter
June 11- September 13, 2009
San Francisco's Museum of Craft and Folk Art features retrospective of artist's work 

 20 March 2009 - San Francisco, CA: San Francisco's Museum of Craft and Folk Art ( is pleased to announce the opening of Warren MacKenzie: Legacy of An American Potter on June 11, 2009. The exhibition will comprise approximately 300 works spanning the past fifty years from over twenty institutions and individual collectors. MacKenzie's pots are found in major museums and collections around the world. Since 1952, he has taught at the University of Minnesota, where he is now a professor emeritus. MacKenzie currently lives and works in Stillwater, Minnesota. There will be an opening reception and book signing by the artist on Thursday, June 11, 5pm ‘til 7pm.

Recognized as a true master of 20th century ceramic art, this comprehensive retrospective presents seminal works produced by Warren MacKenzie over a fifty-year period (1948-2005). Representing various styles, forms, and approaches to the art of clay, this exhibition will undoubtedly shed new light on the life and work of one of America's foremost studio potters. As one of America's greatest living potters and an inspiration to a new generation of ceramic artists, Warren MacKenzie's life and work reflects the changing role of the ceramic artist in society from the early modern philosophy of producing works for industry to the emergence of the individual studio potter in the 1950's. This exhibition pays tribute to Warren MacKenzie as one of the leading pioneers in the studio pottery movement in America today.

Through his traditional, wheel thrown stoneware vessels, Warren MacKenzie embodies not only the fusion of influences of Bernard Leach, Shoji Hamada and Soetsu Yanagi, but also his own unique vision where art and life are one and where the presence of the potter's hand is felt and touched through the utilitarian pots that are produced for use in everyday life.

This exhibition traces art of Warren MacKenzie through works on loan from over twenty institutional and individual collections. The exhibition explores Warren MacKenzie's development as a potter from his early studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago to the unique experiences working with the world-renowned ceramic artists Bernard Leach and Shoji Hamada. The exhibition will present works in chronological order with the addition of comprehensive associated materials-photographs, didactic materials, films, gallery guides and a fully illustrated catalogue with essays by leading ceramic art scholars.

Born in 1924, in Kansas City, Missouri, Warren MacKenzie studied ceramics at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. In 1947, he graduated from the School and married Alix Kolesky who was his life long collaborator in pottery until her death from cancer in 1962. In 1948 Warren and Alix moved to Minnesota to teach ceramics, sculpture and design at the St. Paul Gallery and School of Art. Over the next fourteen years, Warren and Alix would apprentice with Bernard Leach at St. Ives in England for two years; meet Shoji Hamada and other internationally acclaimed potters and establish a pottery studio in Stillwater, Minnesota. In 1953 Warren began teaching ceramics at the University of Minnesota and in 1954 the MacKenzie's had their first exhibition of pottery from their new studio at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis.

Exhibition Catalogue:

The Museum of Craft and Folk Art will sell a 9" x 12" 200-page catalogue produced by The Rochester Art Center to accompany the exhibition. The catalogue has over 100 color images and black and white photographs. It includes an essay by Catherine Futter, Curator of Decorative Arts at the Nelson Atkins Museum, who received her Ph.D. in the History of Art from Yale University in 1993 and specialized in American and European decorative arts from 1850 to the present. Also included is an essay on the art and life of Warren MacKenzie written by Rob Silberman, Associate Professor at the University of Minnesota. The catalogue also includes a curator's statement, an exhibition history, bibliography, and a list of artworks and their lenders.

Warren MacKenzie Bio:

In 1966 MacKenzie was promoted to full professor at the University of Minnesota and chaired the Department of Studio Arts at the University from 1981-85. During the next twenty-four years, MacKenzie exhibited both nationally and internationally, establishing the University of Minnesota's ceramics department as one of the leading educational institutions and conducted numerous lectures and workshops throughout the country. Amongst numerous awards, Warren MacKenzie was named Regent's Professor and a fellow of the International Academy of Ceramics in 1984 and was the first to receive the Minnesota Governor's Award in Crafts in 1986. In 1990 MacKenzie retired from the university and continues to make pots in his studio and exhibit his work and lecture in America and abroad. In 1997 he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Minnesota Crafts Council and a year later Warren MacKenzie was honored with the Gold Metal from the American Crafts Council. His work is represented in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York; the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C.; The National Folk Art Museum in Tokyo, Japan; the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, England; The Contemporary American Crafts Museum in New York; Bernard Leach Study Collection in Bath, England; the Minnesota Museum of American Art in St. Paul; the Weisman Art Museum and the Minneapolis Institute of Arts in Minneapolis.

The Museum of Craft and Folk Art is located at 51 Yerba Buena Lane, San Francisco, California. Museum hours are Monday through Friday 11am - 6pm (Closed Wednesdays). Admission is $5 for general public, $4 for seniors, (62 and over) and FREE for Museum of Craft and Folk Art Members, and on the First Tuesday of every month. The Museum of Craft and Folk Art is wheelchair accessible. For more information call (415) 227-4888 or visit

This exhibition was organized by the Rochester Art Center, Rochester, Minnesota. Support for this exhibition is generously provided by the Windgate Charitable Foundation. Additional support for this exhibition is provided in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. Sponsors for the MOCFA exhibition include Association of Clay and Glass Artists; Trax Gallery; Mindy Solomon Gallery; and anonymous donations.

The Museum of Craft and Folk Art is generously supported by the Compton Foundation, Grants for the Arts/San Francisco Hotel Tax Fund, Walter & Elise Haas Fund, The Kimball Foundation, Gertrud and Harold Parker, The San Francisco Foundation, The Sato Foundation, Museum members, and friends.