March 1, 2015


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Lot 223: Joel Otterson

Lot 223: Joel Otterson

American Portable Pottery Museum (Wall of China)

125 ceramic pieces, copper plumbing pipe, steel, rubber casters
93" x 104" x 30"
Together with copy of invoice and exhibition loan receipt
Provenance: The artist;
Shoshana Wayne Gallery, Santa Monica, California (acquired directly from the above);
Private Collection, Los Angeles, California (acquired directly from the above, 1995)
Exhibited: "The 57th Scripps Ceramic Annual," Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery, Scripps College, Claremont, January 20-April 1, 2001
Estimate: $8,000 - $12,000
Price Realized: $10,000
Inventory Id: 18122

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Los Angeles contemporary artist Joel Otterson (b. 1959) is a maker in the old tradition, working with copper pipe, pottery, earthenware, concrete, marble, stained glass, quilting, lacemaking, and woodworking, but his ironic arrangements and pithily titled pieces are wholly au courant. A Los Angeles native, Otterson enrolled in Parsons School of Design in New York City in 1977 and went on to live in the city for over 20 years. In 1987, he was selected for a solo exhibition in the Projects Room of the Museum of Modern Art, New York. Otterson says of his work: "My work is loud, and I want it to yell at people."

In this boisterous example, American Portable Pottery Museum (Wall of China) (1994), the artist makes a wry and pointed comment on current global manufacturing practices—namely, that China is the primary trading partner of the United States in manufactured goods. Every facet of the behemoth work, measuring almost 8-feet in height, conveys a message. The structure of the sculpture is a complicated lattice of copper tubing—China is the second-largest miner and producer of copper in the world. Pieces of found pottery populate the frame, bringing up the material history of earthenware in the United States and, by association, the long and complex history of porcelain in China.

Two pieces by Otterson were prominently featured in the 2014 Whitney Biennial. Otterson's work is in the permanent collections of the Cincinnati Art Museum, the Broad Foundation, the Israel Museum, and other institutions.

Harrity, Christopher. "Artist Spotlight: Joel Otterson." The Advocate 2012: n.pag. Web. 4 Dec. 2014. McKenna, Kristine. "ART: How to Push That Bad-Taste Button." The Los Angeles Times 9 Oct. 1994: n. pag. Web. 4 Dec. 2014."