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Ken Price

Blue Pearl
1996
earthenware with acrylic paint
19 x 21 x 15 in.
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the James Renwick Alliance

Ken Price modeled this piece in clay and then painted it with acrylic to imitate glaze. Its undulating contours and bluish-purple finish may suggest it was inspired by the fabled giant Tahitian pearl, one of the most prized pearls of all. The piece can also be read as a geological formation. The rugged landscape of northern New Mexico, where Price spends part of each year, inspired the eroded forms of the sculpture. In addition, its correspondence to the human body cannot be ignored. The rounded forms suggest human curves, and the enigmatic opening, bodily orifices.