Fountain Vase by George Ohr (ca. 1895-1900)
This afternoon I was skimming over George Brecht’s 1966 essay Chance Imagery; and as I was reading this essay which traces the use of chance techniques in painting back to Kandinsky in 1911, I was drinking water from a handmade porcelain cup given to me by local potter Brad Lum, with its drips of glaze flowing haphazardly down the side. It occurred to me that just around the time that painting began to embrace chance operations, they were being eliminated from ceramics as a result of industrialization. How odd, I thought, that the western artist saw fit to insert chance into a deterministic art form like painting, rather than embrace an essentially chance-based art form like ceramics. Perhaps it is no coincidence that George Ohr is considered by some to be a precursor to the Dada movement in America.