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Betty Woodman, Aztec Vase #7, 2007, glazed earthenware, epoxy resin, lacquer, paint, 38 x 32 x 24". From the series “Aztec Vase,” 2004–.

Betty Woodman

Salon 94 | Bowery

Betty Woodman, Aztec Vase #7, 2007, glazed earthenware, epoxy resin, lacquer, paint, 38 x 32 x 24". From the series “Aztec Vase,” 2004–.

Installations of Betty Woodman’s works often have an element of theatricality, and in this exhibition, “Front/Back,” her ceramic vase sculptures sang together like characters in an opera. Brilliantly united by their chromatic relationships, they evoked a coloratura worthy of Rossini.

Though Woodman’s ceramic vases always maintain their function as containers, she positions them on the edge between painting and sculpture, challenging categories of utility, craft, and art. Most sport two planes or fins, which jut out from the vessels’ sides; on these surfaces, Woodman paints images inspired by a variety of sources, from Eastern painting to modernist masters. Female nudes—stretched out like Cézannesque bathers—alternate with vividly colored geometric shapes, naturalistic elements, and bright abstract surfaces. The two sides of these sculptures are oftentimes completely

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