Warren Gilbertson
Birth Date: 1910
Death Date: 1954
Artist Gallery
Born in 1910, Warren “Bud” Gilbertson was a well-respected ceramicist during his life, and was among the first ceramicists in America to practice Raku. He studied at the Art Institute of Chicago, and while there, taught sculpture and ceramics at Hull House. He completed his formal American training with a master’s degree at the New York State College of Ceramics. He traveled to Mexico to study the work of the Talavera Potters and in 1941 went to Japan to study with one of their top ceramicists, Kon-jiro Kawai. Additionally, he spent a year in Santa Clara Pueblo studying the techniques of their pottery making. It is possible that during that year he worked with the New Deal programs in New Mexico but this is not firmly documented. Raku ware is a type of Japanese pottery traditionally used in Japanese tea ceremonies, most often in the form of tea bowls. The Western version of raku was developed in the 20th century by studio potters, specifically Gilbertson. Typically wares are fired at a high temperature, and after removing pieces from the kiln, they are placed in an open-air container filled with combustible material, which is not a traditional Raku practice in Japan. The Western process can give a great variety of colors and surface effects, making it very popular with studio and amateur potters. Because of his knowledge of Asian culture and languages, the Navy sent him across the Pacific during World War II as an intelligence officer. He returned to Santa Fe after the war and established his pottery workshop there. By this time he was a recognized figure in his field and his writings on Asian ceramic techniques had been published by the American Ceramics Society. He had a lifelong affinity for Asian countries and ceramics, saying that in Asia, “you can always find people who share your passion for ceramics and will discuss them by the hour.” In early 1954 he was written up in Time magazine in connection with his discovery of a method of duplicating the oil-spot ceramics of the Sung Dynasty- a feat no potter had accomplished in over 750 years. Unfortunately, this technique has been lost, since Gilbertson was killed in a car accident in 1954.