Betty Woodman: Recommended Reading

Accompanying our Betty Woodman exhibition, this selection covers everything from the significance of craft to the history of ceramics.

Andree Latham

4 Mar 2016

To coincide with our exhibition Betty Woodman: Theatre of the Domestic, the ICA Bookshop's Andree Latham recommends some great titles covering everything from the position of craft in visual arts today to the fascinating history of ceramics.

Betty Woodman Theatre of the Domestic ICA 2016 Exhibition Catalogue
Betty Woodman
This monograph is devoted to the remarkable work of Betty Woodman, an American artist who has been internationally recognised as one of today's most important ceramic sculptors. Beginning her work in the 1950s as a production potter, Woodman’s aim was to create objects that might enhance everyday life. Moving forward, she took the vase as her study, deconstructing and reconstructing its form to produce a complex and chromatic body of sculpture. This richly illustrated catalogue includes a revealing conversation between Betty Woodman and the art critic Barry Schwabsky.

Seeing Things: Collected Writing on Art, Craft and Design
Alison Britton
Seeing Things is a collection of texts which aim to identify the uncertain position of craft within the wider field of art and design. Lively discourse reviews ceramics as an experimental, self-reflective field, placing it in dialogue with alternative lines of inquiry such as gender and cultural studies. Along with selected essays, book reviews and interviews, author and ceramicist Alison Britton demonstrates her desire to test the boundaries of the medium, providing readers with a reflective insight into her own evolving practice.

Subversive Ceramics
Claudia Clare
The centuries-old use of satire in ceramic production can also be regarded as a contemporary phenomenon. Considering art works from 500 BC up to the present day, Subversive Ceramics features artists from 21 different countries and vibrantly illustrates the relationship between ceramics, social politics and political movements. Claudia Clare discusses historically significant works including those by the enslaved African-American potter David Drake, as well as the output of contemporary ceramists such as Virgil Ortiz and Lubaina Himid whose work and means of production have commented on issues of colonialism, race and gender.

New Directions in Ceramics: From Spectacle to Trace
Jo Dahn
What, in contemporary terms does the word 'ceramics' now encompass? New Directions in Ceramics questions the current landscape of the medium, revealing innovations in contemporary practice including its evolution into new areas such as installation, performance and the use of raw clay. Jo Dahn identifies the key players in this shift, providing critical discourse on artists including Edmund de Waal, Nina Hole, Phoebe Cummings and Clare Twomey.

Contemporary Ceramics
Emmanuel Cooper
This comprehensive review succeeds in navigating the vast field of contemporary ceramic practices, making it a necessary read for ceramists, students and collectors alike. Vibrantly illustrating the most important recent works from across the globe, Contemporary Ceramics covers traditional functional objects to radical room-sized installations, providing artist biographies and highlighting the most significant collections and exhibitions related to the field. Emmanuel Cooper is a practising ceramist, writer and critic. He is the editor of Ceramic Review and Visiting Professor of Ceramics and Glass at the Royal College of Art, London. ■

Betty Woodman: Theatre of the Domestic runs 3 February - 10 April.

All titles are available online or in our bookshop on The Mall.