CHICAGO – On October 28, Wright presents a remarkable collection of stoneware made by American artist Claude Conover at auction. Comprised of more than 40 large-scale forms from the 1960s–1980s, the selection reveals the bold and powerful vision of a prolific artist who preferred to let his work speak for itself. Absentee and Internet live bidding will be available through LiveAuctioneers.
The collection was compiled by Adam Edelsberg, who was drawn not only to the forms, but to the untold story of Claude Conover. Edelsberg’s interest led to a decade-long passionate search for works and information. He found owners of the galleries who represented Conover in his day, and followed the threads to several original collectors and early patrons. Eventually, Edelsberg connected with the artist’s descendants who, as he discovered, retained the artist’s own thorough archive of production.
Claude Conover studied at the Cleveland School of Arts (alongside Viktor Schreckengost and Leza McVey) and worked as a commercial artist for more than 30 years. It was not until he was in his fifties that he dedicated himself full-time to ceramics. His experience in clay was entirely self-taught, though his artistic education guided his sculptural approach to his medium, emphasizing the exploration of mass and volume. Working solo, Conover hand-built each of his pots and used hand-made tools to add unique decorative patterns to their exteriors. His monochromatic palette, simple shapes, and the Mayan titles he bestowed upon each of his works — such as Okot, Tlaloc, and Balche — reveal the influence of pre-Columbian culture on his aesthetic.
Conover developed an artistic vernacular that was entirely his own. His work was included in the seminal exhibition Objects USA at the Smithsonian in 1969, and during a series of years he submitted 52 works to the Cleveland Museum of Art’s juried May Show, winning several awards and honorable mentions. Conover was represented by several art galleries, including the landmark artist workshop Potter and Mellen in Cleveland. Today, Claude Conover’s pots can be found in museum collections across the country including the Museum of Arts and Design in New York, the Everson Museum of Art in Syracuse, and the Cleveland Museum of Art. At once classic and modern, Conover’s works embody a distinctive modernist idiom, with echoes of Constantin Brancusi.
This special auction is the first-ever sale dedicated to the production of Claude Conover and features monumental bottle forms and a rare pair of matched table lamps, as well as more uncommon double stacks, which made up less than 2% of the artist’s production. A full-color publication accompanies the auction featuring an essay by curator and scholar, Glenn Adamson, who explores Conover’s important place in the canon of modern ceramics in America.
An exhibition of all lots, the most comprehensive survey on Conover to date, will occur in New York October 21st – 28th at the High Line Nine located at 507 W 27th Street.
View top auction results on LiveAuctioneers here: https://www.liveauctioneers.com/pages/recent-auction-sales/