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Betty Woodman


Betty Woodman, Ladies on the Balcony, 1994
woodcut/lithograph, #5/30, matted and framed to 31.5" x 57"

Betty Woodman was a leading American ceramist whose dazzling inventions with form and color moved beyond the traditional domain of craft. She consistently challenged the limits of the medium, her colorful, witty – and nonfunctional – vessels decorated with scenes from the Italian Renaissance or slathered with landscape clouds. Her work is crucial to larger discussions about gender, craft, and modernism in 20th-century America.


Woodman’s mature style focused on ceramic pieces that appear functional but in reality are not. These serve as a support for her energetic painting techniques. Woodman approached her prints with the same inventiveness and exuberance of her ceramic work. Taking up the challenge to work in two dimensions, Woodman painted, cut, and collaged her prints to create glorious pots sitting in interiors, just as she formed, cut, and assembled her ceramic pots.


Woodman’s painterly monotypes, woodcuts, and lithographs make reference to the rich history of ceramics around the world. The shapes, designs, and glazes of her pots come from Greek, Etruscan, European, and Asian cultures, which she acknowledges in her “Oribe Tray” and “Iznik” prints, and the pots she referred to as “Japanese ladies” in her large-scale woodcut/lithograph, “Ladies on the Balcony.”


In 2008, Woodman was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Brooklyn Museum. She has been honored as National Academician by National Academy Museum and School of Fine Arts in New York and is the recipient of the prestigious Dunwiddie Prize from that same institution. She holds Honorary Doctorates from Rhode Island School of Design; Nova Scotia College of Art and Design; and the University of Colorado, Boulder, where she served as Professor of Fine Arts for many years. Other honors and awards include the Premio Internazionale Vietri sul Mare, Fondazione Museo Artistico Industriale in Salerno, Italy; the Visionary Award of The American Craft Museum in New York; a Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship from he Bellagio Study Center in Bellagio, Italy; a Distinguished Research & Creative Lectureship, University of Colorado, Boulder; the Colorado Governor’s Award in the Arts; two NEA Fellowships, and a Fulbright-Hays Scholarship to Florence, Italy. Woodman’s work has been shown around the world in exhibitions throughout the US, and in France, Italy, Holland and Japan. Her work is in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art; Boston Museum of Fine Arts; Brooklyn Museum; Metropolitan Museum of Art; Smithsonian Institute; National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC; Philadelphia Museum of Art; Whitney Museum of American Art; the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam; Victoria and Albert Museum in London; the ICA London; and numerous others. In 2006, “The Art of Betty Woodman,” a retrospective of Woodman’s work, was shown at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

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