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AROUND HOME : The History of American Ceramics: 1607 to the Present, From Pipkins and Bean Pods to Contemporary Forms : BY ELAINE LEVIN (Harry N. Abrams, Inc.; 1988)

March 26, 1989|Robin Tucker

AT MORE THAN 350 pages, "The History of American Ceramics" will be daunting to any but the serious ceramics collector, scholar or artist. But there can be no doubt that the book is a definitive work on its subject. Backed by 352 illustrations (100 full color), it fulfills the promise of its title, presenting a survey that begins with the red earthenware produced in Jamestown in 1607, and the subsequent spatter ware and yellow ware. The arts and crafts movement meant the formation of the now-famous art potteries such as Rookwood and Dedham, with its signature crackle-glaze and rabbit-motif trims. The Art Nouveau and Art Deco periods produced a significant increase in decorative ceramic items and sculpture, while the Depression championed monumental art projects for ceramists in the form of building decorations. The book includes sections on California pottery of the '30s and '40s--Bauer, Metlox, Catalina--and the sculptures of such artists as Peter Voulkos and Beatrice Wood, ending with the current popularity of sculpture with social messages. ($65)

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