Return to Earth

Ceramic Sculpture of Fontana, Melotti, Miró, Noguchi, and Picasso 1943-1963
September 21, 2013 - January 19, 2014
In the fall of 2013 the Nasher Sculpture Center presented Return to Earth: Ceramic Sculpture of Fontana, Melotti, Miró, Noguchi, and Picasso, 1943-1963, the first exhibition to explore the increase in interest ceramics received from artists of the avant-garde during this period.

Responding to a variety of personal impulses and historical circumstances, Lucio Fontana, Fausto Melotti, Joan Miró, Isamu Noguchi, and Pablo Picasso produced significant bodies of work in fired clay that engaged the material in novel, inventive, even radical ways, and often challenged the boundaries between sculpture and ceramics. The Nasher’s exhibition offered an in-depth look at some 70 ceramic works, ranging in scale from the intimate to the monumental. In most cases, these objects received scant attention in comparison to the artists’ work in other media, particularly in the United States.

Nonetheless, the works in the exhibition provided the next generation of artists, such as Ken Price and Peter Voulkos, radical examples of the expressive potential of fired clay and paved the way for the resurgence of ceramics in contemporary art today.

Return to Earth was curated by Nasher Sculpture Center Chief Curator Jed Morse. A lavishly illustrated, scholarly catalogue accompanied the exhibition and is available for sale at the Nasher Sculpture Center. 

On September 21, 2013, the Nasher Sculpture Center hosted the symposium Return to Earth: Ceramic Sculpture of Fontana, Melotti, Miró, Noguchi, and Picasso, 1943-1963 and Its Legacy, which featured two sessions. The morning session included presentations by and a round-table discussion with catalogue contributors Jed Morse, Chief Curator of the Nasher Sculpture Center; Catherine Craft, Associate Curator of the Nasher Sculpture Center; Dakin Hart, Senior Curator of The Noguchi Museum in New York; and Marin R. Sullivan, Post-doctoral Research Fellow at the Henry Moore Foundation at the University of Leeds (Leeds, UK).  The afternoon session brought together ceramicists Nicole Cherubini, Ginger Geyer, and Brian Molanphy for a discussion on contemporary practices in ceramics.