Lot 83: Harrison McIntosh
Scottish Rite Temple jar
This was McIntosh's largest vessel. It was commissioned by Millard Sheets and Albert Stewart for the Scottish Rite Temple in Los Angeles where it remained for 49 years.
Exhibited: American Museum of Ceramic Art, Pomona, 2012
Illustrated: Johnson, Christy. Common Ground: Ceramics in Southern California 1945-1975. Exhibition book. Pomona: American Museum of Ceramic Art, 2012. p 143 (jar illustrated).
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Even after a mere glance at these works, it is clear what passions drove Harrison McIntosh (b. 1914). The breathtaking boldness, understated elegance and simplicity of form, and sensitivity to color and shade bring to mind the works of Swedish potters Wilhelm Kage and Stig Lindberg for Gustavsberg. The fluidity, figurative influence, and functionality evoke Japanese pottery and traditional prints as well as the work of Japanese potter Shoji Hamada. Throughout his 70 years as a potter, he has remained devoted to his approach: “Simplification is a basic principle of mine, and I strive to purify and strengthen an idea.”
Harrison McIntosh was born in Vallejo, California in 1914 to Scottish parents. Throughout his adolescent years, he participated in a variety of artistic opportunities, including painting competitions, lessons from local artists, and exposure to influential artwork at the Haggin Museum and Art Gallery, each of which set him on course toward the formation of his artistic voice. In 1937 the family left Vallejo for Los Angeles and the following year Harrison took his first job with the community exhibition space “Foundation of Western Art.” During his time acquainting himself with the LA gallery scene, McIntosh became fascinated with the influential gallery Dalzell Hatfield where he was first exposed to the work of Gertrud and Otto Natzler, which inspired him to experiment with ceramics. In 1938 his parents commissioned the architect Richard Neutra to design a home for them in Silver Lake. While taking a ceramics course with Glen Lukens at the University of Southern California, his family encouraged him in his new direction by setting up a kiln in the garage. From 1949-52 he studied at the seminal ceramics school at the Claremont Graduate School at Scripps College during the tenure of influential art director Millard Sheets.
In the late 1950s, Millard Sheets and Albert Stewart, designers of the Scottish Rite Memorial Temple located on Wilshire and Lucerne in Los Angeles, asked McIntosh to design a jar for the temple. His largest vessel, this jar (1961) inhabits space with an economy of design and organic graphics that achieve a stately magnitude. At this point in his career, he had perfected his characteristic designs and techniques with the same clay and glazes, and this urn is the embodiment of his virtuosity. Considered as one of the most influential ceramicists living today, McIntosh enjoyed a successful career, producing works for industry, as well as custom commissions that can be viewed in museums and galleries around the world, including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Louvre, Paris, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.
“Harrison McIntosh.” Franklloyd.com. Frank Lloyd Gallery, 2003. Web. 13 Aug. 2012. McNaughton, Mary. Oral history interview with Harrison McIntosh, 1999 Feb. 24-Mar. 4. Smithsonian Archives of American Art. Web. 13 Aug. 2012. Muchnic, Suzanne. “Harrison McIntosh, ceramics virtuoso.” LAtimes.com. Los Angeles Times, 24 Sept. 2009. Web. 13 Aug. 2012.