Architectonic: Bruce Dehnert Sculptural Ceramics

January 24 - April 18, 2021
Bruce Dehnert, Ochre
Bruce Dehnert, Ochre
Bruce Dehnert, Driveshaft
Bruce Dehnert, Driveshaft
Bruce Dehnert, Fold
Bruce Dehnert, Fold

Miss the opening reception? Watch it below!

Bruce Dehnert’s passion for architectural forms has long been a significant element in his work, functioning as both form and content and sometimes as a surprising nuance. Dehnert’s work in this exhibition confirms the inseparability of architectonic form and the artist’s full knowledge and experience of clay’s spatial plasticity.

Dehnert has lived, worked, exhibited, curated, and taught in several parts of the world. He is also a master kiln builder, responsible for the rebuilding of the noborigama kiln at Peters Valley where he heads the Ceramics Program.

While the current exhibition focuses on the artist’s investigation of geometries as primary elements, his art includes figurative sculpture in which semi-abstracted bodies are supported on armatures of geometric clay units.

Dehnert’s exploration of diverse forms reflects his abiding interest in narrative and myth as forces in art and life. One should not be surprised at finding these elements in his sculpture, in two-dimensional work, and in his writings. Bruce Dehnert’s breadth of expertise may be seen in the treatment of clay surfaces.

Glazes are a world unto themselves, requiring deep knowledge and experience.  Dehnert has produced works with masterfully detailed surfaces.  Well-known is a series of fanciful large butter dishes about which, the artist writes, “I have tried to gather humor and elegance together in a curious relationship.” *

While it is impossible to document Dehnert’s extensive and varied creative history, “Architectonic…” seems to resonate with an investigation of primacy and purity. This is also visible in recent “ingot” forms that are potentially “functional” in the shallow concavity of their upper surfaces but stripped of any insistence that they be other than clay; they are understated sculpture.

As with the sculptures in this exhibition, they are replete with traces of the maker’s hand and typical of Dehnert’s willingness to create ambiguity, to seek and investigate in his art the confluence of intellect and spontaneity.  ‘Architectonic…,” built of walls, corners, lines, curves, is the exploration of complexity created with deceptively simple geometric forms wedded to clay’s primal and seductive plasticity.

Ingrid Renard and Hildreth York, Curators

Show Your Support

In addition to inspiring people with our classes, we spark imaginations with world-class art installed on our terrace and in our galleries. We maintain the beautiful stone mill that deepens your ties with the past and provide a gathering place for your family and friends on the Toshiko Takaezu Terrace. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation so that we may continue educating, challenging, and inspiring community through the arts.

The Hunterdon Art Museum is barrier-free and accessible to people who use wheelchairs. Patrons who are deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired may contact the Museum through the New Jersey Relay Service at (TTY) 1 (800) 852-7899. Visit our Accessibility page for complete information.

Programs are made possible in part by funds from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts; Hyde and Watson Foundation; The Large Foundation; and The Holt Foundation, along with other corporations, foundations, and individuals. 

Back To Exhibitions

More Past Exhibitions