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A Bronze by Paul Soldner

The Paul Soldner bronze sculpture above, shown here at the artist’s studio in Aspen, Colorado evolved from an exceptional series of altered wheel thrown and hand-built ceramic vessels.

IMG_1445IMG_1450Beginning in the 1970s, Paul Soldner’s interests consolidated around a form that is at once exploded and then alternately flattened, and then stamped, transforming a vessel, a traditional cylinder bottle or urn shape into a sculpture constructed from intersecting massive slabs and planes. Early on, these objects were elaborated with elegant brush line and stencil work depicting female nudes, or, abstracted patterns. Later, especially in the sculptural pieces, the embellishments were impressed directly into the surfaces. Some of this evolution is depicted in the photographs above. These photographs were taken in the artist’s studio shortly after his demise. The arrangement and date of production shown on the shelving below the work is that of the artist. In all matters, please respect the artist copyright for the artwork shared in these photographs, and also honor my copyright on these specific photographs. If you desire to use, reproduce, circulate or redistribute photographs of individual works you should consult Soldner Enterprises; or, if you wish to utilize my snapshots for educational or scholarly purposes please contact william.hemmerdinger@gmail.com.

Paul Edmund Soldner was born at Summerfield, Illinois on April 24, 1921. He would become a ceramicist and sculptor of international prominence. Soldner originated a new aesthetic movement of non-utilitarian ceramic arts associated with contemporary American Raku. Later, he transformed his wheel-thrown and altered ceramic works into bronze sculpture.

“Accepted internationally as a major force in the evolution of contemporary ceramic art, he has punctuated his career with important innovations. In the mid-1950s, while studying with Peter Voulkos at the Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles, he investigated the idea of extended throwing, creating varied shapes that extended to seven or eight feet in height. These pieces were decorated with expressionistically painted areas. In the 1960s and 1970s, he explored the Buddhist philosophy and worked out a technique that has become known world wide as American Raku. Then, in the 1970s and 1980s, he pioneered a technique known as low temperature salt firing, which extended his vocabularyand became influential in the ceramics world. New qualities that emergedin his life and work at that time are now being incorporated into his work which is much larger, extended layered and sculpturally extended. He is now working on a new bronze casting technique.” (California Arts Review, page 1114).

The artist graduated from Bluffton College, took a MA in Arts Education at University of Colorado, Boulder and then completed a Master of Fine Arts degree at the Los Angeles County Art Institute (Later known as Otis Art Institute). Early in his career, Soldner established a studio at Aspen, Colorado where he designed and built a compound of innovative and environmentally responsible buildings.

Soldner art works are in the permanent collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, San Francisco Museum of Art ; Oakland Art Museum, Everson Museum, Syracuse, New York; Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC. National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto Japan

The artist completed Ceramic Murals for Home Savings and Loan, Los Angeles (1956); Forty Large Planters, Scripps College, (1961); Three Major Pieces, for Objects USA, international circulating exhibition for Johnson Wax Collection, (1969).

His significant exhibitions included: Ostend International Exhibition, Belgium,1959; Ceramic International, Prague , Czech NNNN1962; Triennali, Venice, Italy, 1964; Contemporary Ceramic Art, National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto, Japan. 1971; International Ceramics, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 1972 World Crafts Exhibition, Toronto, Canada, 1974; Masters in Ceramic Arts, Everson, Museum, 1975. American Potters Today held at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London; Poetry of the Physical, American Crafts Museum 1987; Eloquent Objects, Oakland Museum of Art, Oakland, California 1988. Solo exhibitions included the Esther Saks Gallery (1986 & 1988) Louis Newman Gallery, Beverly Hills, California; Susan Cummins Gallery; Mill Valley, California; Museum of Ceramic Arts, Pomona, California; San Angelo Art Center, Texas; El Camino College, Torrance, California; and a traveling retrospective 1991 – 1994 appearing at multiple locations nationwide.

Recipient of many honors, his awards included: Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Grant, 1966 & 1972; Craftsmen’s Fellowship Grant, National Endowment for the Arts, 1978; Purchase Award, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 1972; Pris D’ Honneur, Biennale Internationale de Ceramique d’Art de Vallauris, Paris; honorary DFA degrees (Doctor of Fine Arts) from Bluffton College and Westminster College.

Paul Soldner taught at Scripps College and Claremont Graduate School (1955 – 1966) and (1970 – 1992). He also taught at the University of Colorado, Boulder (1966 – 1967); and the University of Iowa, (1967 – 1968). Soldner was a founding faculty member and Director, Center for the Hand School, Andersen Ranch, Snowmass, Colorado, (1973 – 1975). Now known as the Andersen Ranch Arts Center.

Soldner served as a member of the American Crafts Council, (Five State Craftsman –Trustee), (1971 – 1974); National Council of Education in the Ceramic Arts; Academie Internationale de Ceramique.

He functioned as exhibition director National Ceramics Invitational, Scripps College, (1957 -); Member of the Steering Committee, International School of Ceramics, Rome, Italy, (1965 -); Director of the United States Section, World Crafts Council, (1971 -1974); Program Chairman, National Crafts Conference, Fort Collins, Colorado, (1973); Fellow, Collegium of Craftsmen of the United States, (1977). National Council of Education in the Ceramic Arts (panelist), (1980).

The artist is listed in: Who’s Who in American Art, Cattell Press, Jaques, New York & London: R. R. Bowker Company, 1980 – present; Who’s Who in American Art, 1999-2000, Millenium Edition, Flinsch-Rodriquez, Patricia. New Providence, New Jersey: Marquis Who’s Who, 2000; The California Art Review, An Illustrated Survey of the State’s Leading Museums, Galleries and Artists, Krantz, Les. Chicago, Illinois: American References, Inc., 1989

See also: John W. Conrad Contemporary Ceramics, Prentice-Hall, 1977; Donald Campbell, Using the Potter’s Wheel, Van Nostrand Reinhold;1977; Paul Soldner, A Retrospective, University of Washington Press, 1991. Daniel Wilson, With These Hands, ABC-TV, Johnson Wax Sponsor, 1971. Selections of Paul Soldner’s writings are compiled as a book entitled Nothing to Hide.

In addition to his work as an artist, Soldner invented and developed many products related to ceramic arts and ceramic arts education. For many years Soldner Enterprises produced high quality pottery wheels, kilns and clay mixers.

He enjoyed a wide circle of friends, fellow artists with whom he often traded works. This permitted the formation of an impressive household inventory of ceramic arts. Soldner maintained studios in Aspen, Colorado (P.O. Box 90, Aspen, CO, 81611) and Claremont, California (743 W. Baseline Road, Claremont, CA, 91711).

Soldner died on January 5, 2011.

The author gratefully acknowledges contributions from the sources listed above. Special thanks to Stephanie Soldner Sullivan and to Kirk Delman, Galleries of the Claremont Colleges. This document was originally assembled on behalf of the estate of the artist. Opinions regarding sculpture, ceramics, printmaking by Paul Soldner may be obtained by contacting william.hemmerdinger@gmail.com. Inquiries regarding art registry, purchase, sale or commercial galleries representing Soldner art should be directed to Soldner Enterprises, (Aspen).