Richard DeVore (1933 – Jun 25, 2006) was one of the most important American ceramicist of the past century. DeVore’s abstraction began with detailed drawings of each new object in which he worked out the volumetric relationships of the details to the finished work. He is known to have finished the rim last, adding folds or projections. DeVore’s work was important in establishing an understanding that clay could be used to create abstract art.
Richard DeVore was born in Toledo, Ohio in 1933. He earned a B.Ed. degree with an art major from the University of Toledo in 1955, and received an M.F.A. from the Cranbrook Academy of Art in 1957.
In 1966 DeVore became head of the ceramics department at Cranbrook Academy of Art.
He was a member of the Colorado State University art faculty from 1978 to 2004. I
n 1987, DeVore was installed as a fellow of the American Craft Council. He is known for simple, organic forms finished in dull glazes that suggest polished stones, sun bleached bones or even translucent skin.
He died from lung cancer in Fort Collins, Colorado on June 25, 2006. Meulensteen Gallery in New York represents his estate.
DeVore’s pots are numerious private collections and in over 40 museum collections including The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, The Cleveland Museum of Art, the National Museum of Art in Washington D.C., the Louvre’s National Collection of Contemporary Art in Paris, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, Holland and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.
Richard DeVore concentrated on simple vessel forms; tall vases, shallow dishes and low bowls. The interior of these vessels was the primary focal point. His neo-primitive vessels had uneven or folded rims and, sometimes, distressed markings with a characteristic subtle skin-like surface. They echoed qualities of the pottery of the Anastasi and Mimbres Indians without a direct visual reference.
DeVore received his M.F.A. from Cranbrook where he studied with Maija Grotell. In 1966, she selected DeVore as her successor to head the ceramics department. During the 1960s he explored techniques and approaches to ceramics, including bright colors, lusters, and figurative sculpture. By late 1960s he began a body of work sharply focused on the vessel form for which he is known.
During his life, DeVore rejected the attempts to classify his work as ceramic sculpture, and insisted on it being called pottery. DeVore rejected embellishments and insisted on purity of form and surface. He used matte glazes to capture the subtle colors and textures of flesh, smooth stones or dried earth. Like Buzio and Delisle, DeVore used the vessel as a point of aesthetic departure from the traditional container, using only the essence of the form to create a unique sculptural ceramic work. DeVore reinvigorated the potter’s art by showing the potential of the vessel for expressing a personal contemporary aesthetic.