Richard Shaw (artist)

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Richard Shaw (born 1941 in Los Angeles, California, United States) is an American ceramicist and professor known for his trompe l'oeil (French for "fool the eye") style.[1] A term often associated with paintings, referrig to the illusion that a two-dimensional surface is three-dimensional.[2] In Shaw's work, it refers to his replication of everyday objects (such as tin cans, playing cards, and cutlery) in porcelain. He then glazes these components and groups them in unexpected and even jarring combinations.[3] Interested in how objects can reflect a person or identity, Shaw poses questions regarding the relationship between appearances and reality.[4]

Education and career[edit]

Richard Shaw, Open Book II, 1978 (Everson Museum)

The child of an artist mother and a Walt Disney cartoonist father, Shaw was surrounded by art from a young age.[1] Though he is now known for his work with ceramics, he initially planned on becoming a painter. For the last three years of high school, he attended Desert Sun School, located in the San Jacinto Mountains – a private school which had, according to Shaw, an environment that fostered creativity in its students.[5] Still set on becoming a painter, Shaw then briefly attended Orange Coast College. At Orange Coast, he met Martha, a painter who would become his wife, and he first began to work with ceramics.[5]

Following his time at Orange Coast College, Shaw attended the San Francisco Art Institute. He identifies 1963 as the year during which he began seriously working with ceramics and pottery, citing professors Ron Nagle, Jim Melchert, Peter Voulkos, and John Mason as inspiring figures during his time at the Institute.[5] From Voulkos and Mason – who Shaw credits with "revolutionizing" the ceramics scene in the later twentieth century[5] – he learned to experiment with new kiln firing techniques. The trend in the artistic ceramics world (as opposed to the "commercial pottery" world) had been to create high-fire pieces – pieces fired at higher temperatures, which maximized durability.[6] However, in 1965, Shaw's work was displayed in the Museum of Arts and Design (previously the Museum of Contemporary Crafts) in New York, and many of his pieces there were low-fire, which resulted in their having a different surface finish than traditional high-fire pieces.[7]

In 1965, Shaw earned his BFA from San Francisco Art Institute, after which he attended the State University of New York at Alfred for a semester, about which he has said, "Where else do you go if you're into ceramics?"[5] He returned to California to teach at the San Francisco Art Institute from 1966–1987.[8] While teaching at the Institute, he also attended the University of California, Davis, earning his MFA in 1968.[5] Since 1987, Shaw has been a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, and he currently lives in Fairfax, CA with his wife Martha.[9]


Shaw has received the following awards:[10]

Museum collections[edit]

Shaw is represented in the following museum collections:[10]

Selected solo exhibitions[edit]

Shaw's solo exhibitions around the United States include:[12]

Selected group exhibitions[edit]

Shaw's work has been included in the following group exhibitions around the United States:[13]


  1. ^ a b "Richard Shaw: Four Decades of Ceramics", Sonoma County Museum, 2010. Retrieved on 9 February 2017.
  2. ^ Meisel, Alan. "San Francisco", Craft Horizons, August 1976.
  3. ^ White, Cheryl. "Master of Illusion: Richard Shaw", American Ceramics, 1987.
  4. ^ Shaw, Richard. "Welcome to the Web Home of Ceramist Richard Shaw",, 2008. Retrieved on 9 February 2017.
  5. ^ a b c d e f Fuller, Mary (December 1976), "The Ceramics of Richard Shaw", Craft Horizons
  6. ^ "High Fire Glaze Recipes", Ceramic Arts Daily. Retrieved on 9 February 2017.
  7. ^ "Low-firing and Burnishing", Ceramic Arts Daily, 21 Jan. 2010. Retrieved on 9 February 2017.
  8. ^ "Fellow: Richard Shaw", American Craft, Oct./Nov. 1998.
  9. ^ "Richard Shaw: Four Decades of Ceramics", Sonoma County Museum, 2010. Retrieved on 9 February 2017
  10. ^ a b "Richard Shaw". Retrieved 9 February 2017.
  11. ^ "Ceramics", Racine Art Museum. Retrieved on 9 February 2017.
  12. ^ "Richard Shaw", Frank Lloyd Gallery. Retrieved on 9 February 2017.
  13. ^ "Richard Shaw", Anglim Gilbert Gallery. Retrieved on 9 February 2017.
  14. ^ "Variations on a Theme: Teapots from RAM's Collection: January 29 – July 9, 2017", Racine Art Museum. Retrieved on 9 February 2017.
  15. ^ a b "Richard Shaw: Exhibitions". Retrieved 9 February 2017.