Robert SperryPlate #753
glazed stoneware with white slip
27 5/8 x 4 in.
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the James Renwick Gallery
The dynamic interplay of circles, arcs, and broad gestural strokes of this plate suggest a celestial chart and bring to mind Pythagoras's lyrical phrase "music of the spheres." The ancient Greek philosopher believed that the movement of the planets produced notes so perfectly harmonious and exquisite that the music was inaudible on Earth. Through his imaginative use of circles and flowing lines, Robert Sperry imbues the decorative pattern with rhythmic, pulsating energy. Abandoning color in favor of contrasting black and white, he enriches the pastelike glaze with various textures.