Decorative Objects

Claude Conover " OLMA " Vase


Claude Conover Pillow Vase Titled " OLMA "


H 10.5 in. x W 19 in. x D 19 in.


Excellent, Wear consistent with age and use.

Claude Conover (1907-1994)

Born in Pittsburgh, PA, Claude Conover is identified with Cleveland, OH, where he received his education and subsequently spent his career. He studied art at the Cleveland Institute of Art, majoring in portraiture, and following graduation pursued a career as a commercial designer for the next 30 years, working in advertising, typography, and production. Conover worked during the day and at night taught himself pottery by working in a studio behind his house, and at 55 he left the commercial world and turned to pottery for his second career. For the remainder of his life he followed a disciplined approach to his art, exhibited in a number of shows, consistently won awards, and saw his work included in more than twenty museum collections.

Conover’s work is hand-built using clay bodies he mixed himself – primarily stoneware and usually monochromatic. While in the early years he made ceramic animals - creations that are now highly prized by collectors – and also made bowls and lamps, it is his vase forms that are his signature forms. The shapes are variations of classical forms, the surface decorations geometrical and linear, and the color palette primarily earthtones. Using his own coil technique he constructed rounded, elongated, and stacked-pillow vases that have been described as“...timeless monumentality reminiscent of ancient vessels whose utilitarian purpose is now lost to us.”1 Perhaps because of his first career in commercial art, Conover developed a strict schedule that he adhered to in his ceramic career. Mondays were devoted to rolling slabs and making vessels which were then left to dry overnight. Tuesdays he assessed the form and began adding necks and other pieces. Wednesdays he completed the shaping of the final form, always using hand-building techniques, not the wheel. On Thursday he began decorative work, scratching the surface with a sawtooth blade and covering the surface with scratching, striping, and hatching. These decorative elements often produced an effect of prehistoric script or drawings. Fridays were devoted to the finishing decorative work, with the entire process completed by Sunday so that he could start again on Monday. As a result, he produced nearly 250 pots a year – over 3500 in the course of his ceramic career. The pieces were given Mayan names rather than numbers, and because of his prolific production, he used the same list of names over and over.

Conover was also a member of what was called “The Cleveland School,” a group of artists andcraftsmen in Northeast Ohio that joined together with other art supporters to found the Cleveland Academy of Art. The focus of the group was to found an art school, build an art museum, give exhibitions, publish an art magazine, and encourage support for the arts in the schools and community. From 1910 to 1960 the group flourished and achieved many of their

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