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Rupert Deese

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Rupert Deese
Rupert Julian Deese

(1924-07-16)July 16, 1924
DiedJuly 12, 2010(2010-07-12) (aged 85)
EducationPomona College, Claremont Graduate School
Known forCeramic art

Rupert Deese (born Rupert Julian Deese and known as Rummy) (July 16, 1924 – July 12, 2010)[1] was an American ceramic artist. He is known for innovative design and decoration of high fired ceramics.[2] Deese wrote "It is my hope in making these vessels that as the perception of their beauty diminishes over time, they will sustain themselves by pleasant usefulness."[3]



Rupert Deese was born in Agana, Guam, where his father served as a Marine Corps officer. After graduation from high school in 1942, he enlisted in the Army Air Corps, serving stateside as a B-17 mechanic. Deese graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1950 from Pomona College. After graduation, he starting working as a ceramist in Claremont, California, sharing a studio with ceramist Harrison McIntosh.[4][5] Their working relationship lasted for more than 60 years.[6] Deese and Helen Smith (September 15, 1925 – June 4, 2010) married in 1951 and reared four children.[7]

In the mid-fifties, supported by a grant from local art patrons Robert and Catherine Garrison, Deese entered Claremont Graduate School, studying ceramics with Richard Petterson and sculpture with Albert Stewart. He also benefited from the community of artists living in Claremont, most notably architect Millard Sheets and Jean and Arthur Ames, who provided encouragement and support in the early years of his career, and from a close-knit circle of young artists including woodworker Sam Maloof[8] and painters Melvin Woods, Jim Hueter, Jim Fuller, and Karl Benjamin.

After receiving his Master of Fine Arts in ceramics in 1957, Deese continued making his own ceramics in his studio. However, like many artists, he found it necessary to supplement his income. After graduation he began teaching ceramics at Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, California and remained on the faculty until 1971. In 1958 Deese and McIntosh moved their studio to a purpose-built space next to McIntosh's new home in Padua Hills in Claremont. Deese's pottery gained national recognition in 1960 when his covered bean jar won the IBM sweepstakes prize at the prestigious 21st Ceramic National Exhibition at the Everson Museum in Syracuse, New York.

Rupert Deese ceramics

In 1964, Deese accepted a full-time position as a designer in the Franciscan Ceramics division of Interpace (International Pipe and Ceramics Corporation) in Los Angeles. Millard Sheets, as a consultant to the Franciscan Ceramics division, assembled a design team of talented artists, including ceramists Richard Petterson, Dora De Larios, Helen Richter Watson, Henry Takemoto and Jerry Rothman. For the next twenty years until his retirement in 1984, Deese created shapes and patterns for Franciscan dinnerware, glassware, and flatware, including the dinnerware shapes for Madeira, one of the company's best-selling dinnerware patterns. In the evenings and on weekends he continued to work on his own ceramics in his Padua Hills Claremont studio.

In the 1950s, Deese's hand thrown ceramics were available from several interior design firms, including Dean Marshall in La Jolla, California.[9] In the 1970s Deese's ceramics were sold at Gallery 8 in Claremont and in the 1990s at Tobey C. Moss Gallery[2] in Los Angeles. Deese created numerous custom pieces, many of them commissioned by Millard Sheets for clients of his Claremont design studio, including a drinking fountain for Oakmont Elementary School, personalized ashtrays for benefactors of Harvey Mudd College, a bronze tree for the Home Savings of America in Beverly Hills, and a planter for the United States Capitol Members' Dining Room.




  • 1950-1951 Los Angeles County Fair Exhibition, Pomona, California. Honorable mention.
  • 1951 Everson Museum, Syracuse, New York, Ceramic National Exhibition. Honorable mention
  • 1952 California State Fair. Second prize for glaze.
  • 1953 St. Paul Gallery, Fiber-Clay-Metal exhibition. Honorable mention and purchase award.
  • 1960 Everson Museum, Syracuse, New York, 21st Ceramic National Exhibition. IBM sweepstakes prize.




  1. ^ Noland, Claire (July 27, 2011). "Rupert J. Deese dies at 85; Claremont artist created functional pottery". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 24 June 2011.
  2. ^ a b Toby C. Moss Gallery. "Rupert J. Deese". Retrieved 24 June 2011.
  3. ^ Weiner, Rob (1998). "Rupert Deese Stoneware". The Chinati Foundation Newsletter. 3. Archived from the original on 30 August 2011. Retrieved 26 June 2011.
  4. ^ Smithsonian Archives of American Art. "Oral history interview with Harrison McIntosh". Research Collections. Retrieved 5 July 2011.
  5. ^ Perry, Barbara (1989). American Ceramics, The Collection of Everson Museum of Art. New York: Rizzoli. p. 231. ISBN 0-8478-1025-9.
  6. ^ Johnson, Christy; Longenecker-Roth, Martha W.; McIntosh, Marguerite (2009). Harrison McIntosh, A Timeless Legacy. Pomona, California: American Museum of Ceramic Art. ISBN 0-9816728-4-1.
  7. ^ Noland, Claire (July 28, 2010). "More of the Rummy and Helen Deese Story". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 26 June 2011.
  8. ^ "Rupert Deese, Master Potter". The Wooden Latch: 2. Summer 2004.
  9. ^ "Dean Marshall Interiors". Modern San Diego. Retrieved 25 June 2011.
  10. ^ Chinati Foundation. "Rupert Deese". Archived from the original on 28 August 2011. Retrieved 24 June 2011.
  11. ^ "Museum of Fine Arts Boston Collections Online". Museum of Fine Arts Boston. Retrieved 9 March 2015.
  12. ^ "LACMA Collections Online". www.lacma.org. Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Retrieved 9 March 2015.


  • American Museum of Ceramic Art. Common Ground: Ceramics in Southern California, 1945-1975. American Museum of Ceramic Art (2013) ISBN 978-0981672854
  • Elliot-Bishop, James F. Franciscan Hand-decorated Embossed Dinnerware. Schiffer Publishing (2004) ISBN 0-7643-1986-8
  • Lauria, Jo and Gretchen Adkins, Garth Clark, Rebecca Niederlander, Susan Peterson, Peter Selz. Color and Fire: Defining Moments in Studio Ceramics, 1950-2000: Selections from the Smits Collection and Related Works at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Rizzoli International Publications (2000), pp. 97 ISBN 978-0-8478-2254-6
  • Nelson, Glenn C. Ceramics, A Potter's Handbook, Second Edition. Holt, Rinehard and Winston, Inc. (1966), pp. 268–269 ISBN 0-03-055890-5
  • Page, Bob and Dale Frederiksen, Dean Six. Franciscan: An American Dinnerware Tradition. Page/Frederiksen Publications (1999) ISBN 1-889977-07-1
  • Perry, Barbara. American Ceramics: The Collection of Everson Museum of Art. International Publications (1989), pp. 231 ISBN 0-8478-1025-9
  • Kaplan, Wendy. California Design, 1930-1965: "Living in a Modern Way". The MIT Press (2011), pp. 6, 18, 184, 212, 325 ISBN 0-262-01607-9
  • Nelson, Harold B. The House that Sam Built: Sam Maloof and Art in the Pomona Valley, 1945-1985. Huntington Library Press (2011), pp. 17, 25, 96, 120-21 ISBN 0-87328-246-9
  • O'Connor, Tish. Standing Room Only, Scripps 60th Ceramic Annual. Perpetua Press (2004), p. 16
  • Tigerman, Bobbye. A Handbook of California Design. Los Angeles: Los Angeles County Museum of Art. (2013) ISBN 978-0-262-51838-3.