Notkin, Richard

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United States

Notkin was born and raised in Chicago in 1948, and studied art at the Kansas City Art Institute in Kansas City, Missouri (BFA 1970), as well as the University of California in Davis, California (1973 MFA), where he studied under ceramicist Robert Arneson. He lives in Helena, MT, with his wife and fellow artist, Phoebe Toland.

Richard Notkin is famed for his clay teapots, inspired by the traditional Yixing style from China but forming a vehicle for political commentary in the west. His saying: "the vessel is the primary canvas of ceramics and the teapot is the most complex of vessels."

Notkin has been influenced by his teachers, Ken Ferguson and Robert Arneson, Notkin combines a respect for form with sharp social commentary.

Images: Richard Notkin, portrait (source You Tube); teapot (source Craft in America); heart teapot (source D2); tilewall, titled "All Nations Have Their Moments of Foolnishness" (source Crocker Art Museum).


Work of the artist: 

Ceramist Richard Notkin is best known for his sociocritical works and his reinterpretations of Yixing teapots. Although the majority of his work created between 1983 and 1995 consists of teapots, he considers himself a sculptor with a strong commitment to social commentary, and the vessels include political imagery such as cooling towers. He also addresses political issues in larger installations such as The Gift, a mural consisting of three-inch-square earthenware tiles with bas-relief images of dice and skulls. Up close, the piece resembles a scarred Mayan wall, but when viewed from afar, the image of a mushroom cloud emerges.