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June Schwarcz: Invention and Variation

Categorized as: Museums & Exhibits, Art & Galleries
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June Schwarcz (1918–2015) is considered one of the most innovative enamelists working in the late twentieth century. For more than sixty years, she created inventive forms in metal that set new standards for the field while serving as a mentor and an inspiration to generations of young and emerging artists. Schwarcz produced an extensive body of work which, while referring to time-honored vessel making traditions, defied convention because, as she wryly noted, “They simply don’t hold water.”

Schwartz quickly mastered the craft from her first forays in the 1950s and began to push the envelope of what was thought possible in this ancient medium. Schwarcz was remarkably productive throughout her career, working up until her death at ninety-seven. Her vessels defy categorization, each one different from the last but all maintaining her distinctive combinations of texture and color. Her work is influenced by a multitude of sources from Japanese ceramics and textiles, Scandinavian design, and the California arts and crafts movement.

In this first major museum retrospective spanning the entirety of her career, June Schwarcz: Invention and Variation celebrates the contributions of this pioneering artist through a selection of more than fifty examples of her work, including several never before seen by the public. A wide variety of Schwarcz’s forms will be on display, from vessels and three-dimensional objects to wall-mounted plaques and panels. The exhibition is organized by guest curators Bernard N. Jazzar and Harold B. "Hal" Nelson, leading scholars in the late twentieth-century enamels field and co-founders of the Los Angeles-based non-profit Enamel Arts Foundation.

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Washington, D.C.