James Lovera (American, born 1920)

Sunburst Charger, 2003

Sunburst Charger, 2003

Porcelain with red-orange flow glaze 4 3/4 in. x 17 1/2 in. (12.07 cm x 44.45 cm)

Crocker Art Museum, gift of Gregory Baldock


  • James Lovera’s special affinity for the bowl has resulted in a refined and elegant hemisphere. By concentrating on perfecting form, he has been able to unleash upon the “canvas” of his chargers and bowls interpretations of the textures and hues that surround him in nature. His vessels exemplify midcentury Modernist concerns for the clarity of form and function, but Lovera has also been a student of Song Dynasty (960–1279 ce) ceramics, which are among the highest achievements in Chinese porcelain. Lovera was moved by the regard during that historical period for simplicity and the distillation of form to its essence. He has also pushed the chemistry of his glazes to fit to porcelain like a skin. Tapping one of his rims produces the sonorous ring that attests to that marriage. All of this is apparent in the Crocker’s Sunburst Charger and Flow Bowl, each glazed with the artist’s distinctive flow glazes. These glossy, glassy surfaces unite dramatic color with form and evoke the forces of nature. Lovera is best known for his crater glazes, taking them, beginning in the 1970s, to unprecedented levels of lathered, volcanic definition. Since 2000, Lovera has revisited his longstanding crater formulas, reinventing them as necessary to create surfaces that are now fully dimensional and riddled with thousands of vesicles. Lovera’s mastery of both material and kiln is required to prevent the viscosity of the glaze from shattering a bowl’s thin walls. Molten Blue-Green Crater Bowl features not only exceptionally saturated color but also dramatic stalactites of glaze that drip from the bowl’s exterior.

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