Behind The Numbers | Spring 2013
WHAT SOLD, FOR HOW MUCH, & WHY?
Some reasons for the unexpectedly high price:
At first glance, the elegant simplicity and smooth surfaces of Magdalene Odundo’s pots make them look like perfection embodied. Even the asymmetrical pieces seem skillfully massed, with nary a mislaid detail or superfluous curve. Upon closer examination, however, these vessels exhibit formal tensions that display a complex relationship to global ceramic history, as well as notions of gender and nationality. The shapes seem to be made of a molded plastic that allows them to bulge, narrow, and flare, but their sleek curves and glossy finish betray the labor-intensive process by which the walls are hand-raised from coils of clay. Odundo slip-decorates her pieces and fires them in a reduced (oxygen-poor) environment to produce the smoky color, and each piece is painstakingly burnished with a smooth pebble between firings. This untitled work by Odundo is notable for its large scale (18 ¾ inches high) and nearly flawless finish—a challenge since her firing technique can be unpredictable, sometimes resulting in patches of iridescence or mottled color where the slip carbonized irregularly. A subtle navel-like protrusion at the ‘belly’ lends the form an anthropomorphized aspect.