Muskegon Museum of Art April 29 through August 1, 2010
Color It Bizarre: Clarice Cliff Pottery from a Michigan Collection
brings together 175 exceptional examples of Cliff’s colorful wares
designed at the Wilkinson and Newport pottery companies under her
direction in the 1920s and 1930s. Cliff’s distinctive wares are highly
collectible and sought by an enthusiastic international audience. Color
It Bizarre presents a broad selection of her hallmark works and is drawn
from a private collection that may be the largest private Clarice Cliff
collection in North America.
When Clarice Cliff, a young, independently minded decorator at A. J.
Wilkinson’s Royal Staffordshire pottery company, first experimented with
geometric patterns hand painted on traditionally shaped wares in 1927,
the delightful mismatch earned the name “Bizarre,” and the public was
smitten. Thus began the exceptional career of one of the most prolific
and important Art Deco ceramics designers of the 20th century.
Clarice Cliff (1899-1972) was of humble Staffordshire origins at the
heart of the British pottery industry. She entered the industry at 13,
and by the age of 28, her extraordinary talent, determination, and
vision moved her to the forefront of British pottery design.
Clarice experimented with glazes and pottery body colors, as well as
modern shapes that suited the Jazz Age. Her boldly colored, complex
abstract designs vied for attention with whimsical landscape and floral
patterns. An astute business woman, her innovative approach to color,
design, and shape appealed to a youthful market and she was instrumental
in making stylish, hand-painted wares available to the masses. As early
as 1928, her name appeared on the backstamp (maker’s mark) of Bizarre
wares—one of the few women in British potteries allowed the honor—and by
1936, wares were simply marked “Clarice Cliff,” her popularity was so
Opening Reception & May Tours
The Muskegon Museum of Art will hold an opening reception on Thursday,
April 29, from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. A lecture by Cliff experts and
collectors, Kay and Peter Wentworth-Sheilds, will follow the reception
at 7:00 p.m. MMA docents will lead free, guided public tours of the
exhibition from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. every Thursday throughout May. Call
231.720.2570 or e-mail visit www.muskegonartmuseum.org for visitor
Color it Bizarre was organized by the Muskegon Museum of Art and is
underwritten by the Hines Corporation.
The Muskegon Museum of Art is located at 296 W. Webster Ave. in downtown
Muskegon, Michigan. Call 231-720-2570 or visit www.muskegonartmuseum.org
Admission: $5.00 (Free on Thursdays)
Free admission for MMA Members, students (with I.D.), and ages 17 and
Extra admission may be charged for special exhibitions and events.
(June thru August 10am-6pm)
(June thru August 10am-6pm)