San Francisco

Beatrice Wood

California Palace of the Legion of Honor

People sometimes look wistfully at pieces of ancient ceramics in museums, as if such beauty were a part of a lost and buried past. But Beatrice Wood is a modern ceramist who is creating objects which emanate the same grace. The colors, textures and forms of Beatrice Wood are both vivid and subtle. But more important, perhaps because of her training as an actress, Beatrice Wood is able to portray a sculptor’s range of dramatic presences, from tragedy to comedy. The decorative ability is extended into portrayals of humor, euphoria or contemplation. She constructs a vase of the purest esthetics and then carves around it a string of witty abstract clowns on a trapeze. Her colors are molded with light. Some pieces have dignity and graciousness, some are homely and fat and contented. Others are mellow, yielding, suave, or mobile and alive. They are both ornamental and entertaining. They fill an empty space with the same individual presence as a piece of sculpture. Some have tiny craters, as if formed by the evolutions, contractions and expansions of the earth itself. Some seem made of bubbling gas-filled lava. Some are jeweled like crushed sea shells or pearls, others are iridescent and smoky like the trailways left by satellites. The warmth and range of her moods would bring relief to our harsh Cubistic architecture. The Japanese say it is the irregularity of the potter’s clay by which the sculptor reveals his humanity. Beatrice Wood combines her colors like a painter, makes them vibrate like a musician. They have strength even while iridescent and transparent. They have the rhythm and the lustre of both jewels and of human eyes. Water poured from one of her jars would taste like wine.

Anaïs Nin