Betty Woodman

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Betty Woodman
Woodman, 1973
Elizabeth Abrahams

(1930-05-14)May 14, 1930
DiedJanuary 2, 2018(2018-01-02) (aged 87)
EducationSchool for American Craftsmen (Alfred University)
Alma materAlfred University
Known forPottery

Elizabeth Woodman (née Abrahams; May 14, 1930 – January 2, 2018) was an American ceramic artist.

Early life and education[edit]

Betty Woodman was born in Norwalk, Connecticut, to Minnie and Henry Abrahams. Her parents were progressive socialists and her mother promoted a feminist viewpoint. During seventh grade, stifled by the home economics courses to which young women were relegated at the time, she successfully fought her way into a woodshop class, wherein she learned to use a lathe.[1] Betty started pottery classes at age 16 and immediately took to clay. She attended the School for American Craftsmen at Alfred University in New York from 1948 until 1950.[2]


Woodman began her career in the 1950s as a production potter. Her career moved from functional pottery to fresh and exuberant art culminating in a retrospective show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in 2006, the first such retrospective for a living, female ceramicist, and a solo show at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London in 2016 with the title Theatre of the Domestic. She was a professor of art at the University of Colorado Boulder from 1978 to 1998.[3][4][2][5][6][7] Following her daughter's death in 1981, Woodman's work subsequently shifted, evolving from functional pottery to the more abstract, thus transforming her career.[1] She received an honorary doctorate from CU in 2007.[8] Woodman convinced city of Boulder officials in the 1950s to fund the Pottery Lab, making it one of the first recreational pottery programs in the U.S. Her vision was to have students make pottery for fun but also develop their craft into a career.[7][8] The Pottery Lab's creation resulted in around 100 kilns being constructed in the Boulder area.[2]


Betty Woodman met George Woodman in a pottery class she was teaching in Boston in 1950. They married in 1953.[2] George Woodman was a painter and photographer.[3] He headed the University of Colorado Boulder art department.[2] He died in March 2017.[3] Betty and George Woodman had two children. Their daughter, Francesca Woodman, was a photographer who died by suicide in 1981 at age 22.[3] Their son, Charles Woodman, is an artist.[8]

Awards and honors[edit]

Woodman's awards and honors include:[9]


Woodman exhibited at museums and galleries in the US and internationally, including:


Woodman's work is included in public collections, including:

Other contributions[edit]

In the 1991 documentary Thinking Out Loud, Woodman is interviewed by curator and painter John Perreault. In 2006 the monograph, Betty Woodman, was produced in conjunction with her retrospective at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and it includes curatorial essays by Janet Koplos, Barry Schwabsky, and Arthur Danto.[29]


  1. ^ a b Sandomir, Richard (2018-01-05). "Betty Woodman, Who Spun Pottery Into Multimedia Art, Dies at 87". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-09-22.
  2. ^ a b c d e Whiting, David (2018-01-17). "Betty Woodman obituary". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2019-10-22.
  3. ^ a b c d Sandomir, Richard (2018-01-05). "Betty Woodman, Who Spun Pottery Into Multimedia Art, Dies at 87". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-10-22.
  4. ^ Benezit Dictionary of Artists. 2011. doi:10.1093/benz/9780199773787.article.B00400216.
  5. ^ a b Betty Woodman. Amsterdam: Stedelijk Museum. 1996. p. 7. ISBN 9050061117. OCLC 37297410.
  6. ^ a b "The Art of Betty Woodman | The Metropolitan Museum of Art". Retrieved 2016-05-02.
  7. ^ a b Heath, Jennifer, ed. (2016). Celebration! A History of the Visual Arts in Boulder. Boulder, CO: Baksun Books and Art. p. 204. ISBN 978-1-887997-37-9.
  8. ^ a b c "Betty Woodman, renowned artist and force behind Boulder Pottery Lab, dies at 87". Boulder Daily Camera. 2018-01-04. Retrieved 2019-11-10.
  9. ^, Familiar. "Betty Woodman - Salon 94". Salon94. Archived from the original on 2018-09-27. Retrieved 2016-05-02.
  10. ^ "Honorary Degrees, University Medals and Distinguished Service Awards Full List A-Z". University of Colorado. 2014-06-23. Retrieved 2018-03-07.
  11. ^ "Honorary Degree Recipients|1990-2016" (PDF). Retrieved March 7, 2018.
  12. ^ "Masters: Betty Woodman". Retrieved 2016-05-02.
  13. ^ Betty Woodman : February 16-April 14, 2002, Daum Museum of Contemporary Art. Sedalia, Missouri: Daum Museum of Contemporary Art. 2002.
  14. ^ "Betty Woodman press release American Academy of Rome" (PDF). American Academy of Rome. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2015-03-17. Retrieved 2019-09-06.
  15. ^ "Betty Woodman: Theatre of the Domestic". Archived from the original on 2016-05-07. Retrieved 2016-05-02.
  16. ^ "Pillow Pitcher". Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Retrieved 2016-05-02.
  17. ^ "Aztec Vase 7 • Pérez Art Museum Miami". Pérez Art Museum Miami. Retrieved 2023-05-30.
  18. ^ "On the loss of Pioneering Artist Betty Woodman". Denver Art Museum.
  19. ^ "Betty Woodman | Deco Lake Shore | The Met". The Metropolitan Museum of Art, i.e. The Met Museum. Retrieved 2016-05-02.
  20. ^ "Betty Woodman | MoMA". The Museum of Modern Art. Retrieved 2016-05-02.
  21. ^ "Whitney Museum of American Art: Betty Woodman". Retrieved 2016-05-02.
  22. ^ "Artist Info". Retrieved 2016-05-02.
  23. ^ Art, Philadelphia Museum of Art. "Philadelphia Museum of Art - Collections Object : Diptych Vases, Orpheus". Retrieved 2016-05-02.
  24. ^ "Pillow Vase | Woodman, Betty | V&A Search the Collections". Retrieved 2016-05-02.
  25. ^ Woodman, Betty. "Betty Woodman, "Cup With Gondola, 1982," Minneapolis Institute of Art". Retrieved Mar 9, 2019.
  26. ^ "Betty Woodman, "Urn, c. 1985," Minneapolis Institute of Art". Retrieved March 9, 2019.
  27. ^ Savig, Mary; Atkinson, Nora; Montiel, Anya (2022). This Present Moment: Crafting a Better World. Washington, DC: Smithsonian American Art Museum. pp. 228–238. ISBN 9781913875268.
  28. ^ "Pillow Pitcher". Smithsonian American Art Museum. Retrieved 9 January 2023.
  29. ^ Woodman, Betty (2006-01-01). Betty Woodman. Monacelli Press. ISBN 9781580931687.


  • The Ceramics of Betty Woodman, exhibition catalogue, Freedman Gallery, Albright College,Reading, 1986.
  • Berlind, Robert: Betty Woodman: Between Sculpture and Painting, exhibition catalogue, Blanden Memorial Art Museum, Fort Dodge, Iowa, 1999.
  • Danto, Arthus C/Koplos, Janet/Schwabsky, Barry: Betty Woodman, Monacelli Press, New York, 2006.

External links[edit]