Stanley Rosen (b. 1926) came of age as an artist working in clay in the 1950s and 1960s, a period of time in which craft experienced an explosion of creative growth in the US. Within this context, ceramics was transformed from a practice devoted to the production of utilitarian objects to one that embraced clay as a medium of sculpture. The works on view, created by Rosen between 1959 and 1967, are excellent examples of this expansion of the field of ceramics into the realm of fine art. This new addition to MAD’s permanent collection complements and deepens the Museum’s distinctive holdings in mid-century craft.
Stanley Rosen’s interest in clay as a medium of sculpture was shared by many other ceramists of his generation, including Peter Voulkos, whose transition from potter to ceramic sculptor is explored in Voulkos: The Breakthrough Years. Writing about this exciting new direction in ceramic practice for the magazine Craft Horizons in 1961—an essay that reproduced a work by Rosen very similar to Untitled #32 (1959)—critic Rose Slivka emphasized the new attention to surface texture, the departure from conventional ceramic forms, and a more improvisational method of making as key to “giving the inherent nature of [clay] greater freedom to assert its possibilities” as a medium of art. All of these elements as well as an awareness of ceramic traditions outside of Western Europe—from Japan to Africa—are evident in Rosen’s work.
Stanley Rosen earned a BFA from Rhode Island School of Design, and a MFA from Alfred University. Between 1956 and 1959 he was the studio manager at the legendary Greenwich House Pottery in New York City, and in 1960 he joined the art faculty at Bennington College in Vermont, where he led the ceramics department for many years. Beyond his important contribution to the field of ceramic sculpture, Rosen was also a gifted teacher, inspiring several generations of ceramic artists.