Urgent Museum Notice

Beatrice Wood

A black-and-white photograph of a light-skinned adult woman with short dark hair pinned away from her face. She brushes glaze onto a vase-shaped ceramic vessel in her other hand. She wears a smock-like dress, thick bracelets, and a necklace. Behind her are labeled mason jars.

Photo courtesy of the Beatrice Wood Center for the Arts

1893–1998

Before discovering her love for clay, Wood explored painting, drawing, writing, and acting. After studying painting at the Académie Julian in Paris, Wood returned to her native New York City in 1911 to join the theater scene. At that time, she also became a member of the avant-garde New York Dada art group. She helped develop Dada publications and organize the group’s riotous soirées. She also exhibited her lyrical paintings and drawings at Dada exhibitions.

In 1928, Wood settled permanently in southern California. After purchasing a lusterware plate on a trip to Europe, Wood began taking pottery classes in the adult education department of Hollywood High School. In the late 1930s, she studied with Modernist ceramicists Glen Lukens and Gertrud and Otto Natzler, whose cleanly shaped vessels with variegated or textured glazes influenced Wood. Setting up a studio in Ojai, a small community outside of Los Angeles, Wood found both commercial and critical success. Her lusterware objects were sold through galleries and high-end department stores and featured in numerous one-person museum exhibitions.

In 1961, she was named Goodwill Ambassador to India by the U.S. government. Wood’s ceramics, which she continued to create until her death at age 105, are part of museum collections worldwide. In 1994, the Smithsonian Institution named her an Esteemed American Artist.

Artist Details

  • Name

    Beatrice Wood
  • Birth

    San Francisco, 1893
  • Death

    Ojai, California, 1998
  • Phonetic Spelling

    bee-uh-tris wood

Works by Beatrice Wood

Gold Chalice

Beatrice Wood created this gleaming lusterware vessel when she was 92 years old and, by all accounts, at the height of her artistic powers. After careers as an actress and visual artist associated with the New York Dada movement, Wood became an established studio potter. She became renowned for gleaming lusterware objects in shades of gold, silver, green, pink, purple,...

Golden lusterware chalice features a wide bowl above two looped handles on either side of the cone-shaped base. Raised circular decorations adorn the base and the outside of the bowl.