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Aesthetics of Everyday Objects: The Cup at ATLA


Aesthetics of Everyday Objects: The Cup emerges at a time when seasonal shows around domestic objects are ubiquitous and ceaselessly flirt with the standardized idea of a simple form with a determined function. There’s no doubt that to this day, when uttering the words “ceramic” and “clay,” images of pottery in various pastels pop up in one’s mind, and the potential of a cup being “sculptural”, “painterly,” or “conceptual” erases itself from possibility.

What emerges in response is a 39-person group exhibition highlighting the works of painters, sculptors, mixed-media artists, designers, and ceramicists. Aesthetics of Everyday Objects: The Cup serves as a distinctive disruption from its stereotype, and is built upon the legacy of Betty Asher (1914–94), a renowned Los Angeles curator, collector, and dealer. Credited for being one of the first people to collect Pop Art, and for driving Los Angeles’s cultural scene, Asher simultaneously fulfilled her thirst for inventive works through the inclusion of ceramics and elevated its place from the domestic, at a time when prejudices against the medium were at an all-time high.

An early supporter of Ken Price, Asher invited the likes of Roy Lichtenstein, Philip Guston, and Claes Oldenburg (to name just a few) to take on the idea of a cup and/or a teacup— asking them to dream within their own artistic language and reimagine this humble form. With over 150 works by various artists that Asher admired, including Ron Nagle, Betty Woodman, and Akio Takamori, many of which now live within LACMA’s permanent collection after her passing, ATLA picks up the conversation roughly 50 years later.

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Photo: A Michael Dopp and Shoshi Watanabe collaboration, Shdopp Mug Clock 1 (White), Glazed Porcelain, 8 x 4 x 4.5 in., 2023, Image Courtesy of ATLA