OBJECTS REDUX: 50 Years After OBJECTS: USA Defined American Craft

September 21, 2019 - January 5, 2020

In the late 1960s, as society was undergoing social upheaval, studio craft in the United States was pushing boundaries in terms of influences, subjects, and material exploration. The public face of studio craft—as the focus of exhibitions, theoretical contemplation, and public appreciation—got a boost when SC Johnson endorsed a project to build a collection that would “promote the American object maker.” 

This collection—assembled by art dealer Lee Nordness and then Museum of Contemporary Crafts (now Museum of Arts and Design) director Paul Smith—traveled the country as OBJECTS: USA before being distributed, in the way of gifts, to several institutions. Accompanied by a substantial book with images and artist biographies, as well as a sales catalogue titled arts/objects: usa and an hour-long movie, this combination of over 300 works made of so-called craft materials traveled to 20 US and 14 international venues on its multi-year tour that began in 1969. The exhibition introduced a broader public to the possibilities of media most often associated with function not intellectual, aesthetic, or material investigations. OBJECTS: USA also offered a new way for understanding those works and their makers. 

Drawing on RAM’s collection, as well as generous lenders from the Racine area, OBJECTS REDUX celebrates the 50th anniversary of OBJECTS: USA by combining works from the original touring exhibition with works by many of the same artists produced as part of the accompanying selling program. Not only is this the first time in 50 years that these particular works have been assembled, it is also the first time that these original exhibition works have been back on display in the same gallery. Artists whose works are featured include Wendell Castle, Arline Fisch, Trudy Guermonprez, Sam Maloof, Walter Nottingham, Don Reitz, and Dorian Zachai.

Exhibition Series Notes
Exhibition Series Gallery Guide
A Conversation with Paul W. Smith, Co-Curator of OBJECTS: USA
by Bruce W. Pepich, RAM Executive Director and Curator of Collections

Press Room

Robert Arneson, Irena Brynner, Wendell Castle, Hans Christensen, Claude Conover, Wharton Esherick, Arthur Carpenter Espenet, Frances Felten, Ken Ferguson, Arline Fisch, Carol Funai, Trude Guermonprez, Virginia Harvey, Wayne Higby, Paul Hultberg, Kent Ipsen, Nancy Jurs, Howard Kottler, Doyle Lane, Stanley Lechtzin, Marvin Lipofsky, Harvey K. Littleton, Sam Maloof, Thomas Markusen, Harrison McIntosh, Frederick A. Miller, Joel Philip Myers, Gertrud Natzler, Otto Natzler, Walter Nottingham, Albert Paley, Alice Kagawa Parrott, Ronald Hayes Pearson, Ruth Clark Radakovich, Svetozar Radakovich, Don Reitz, Ed Rossbach, Margaret Seeler, George Sell, Ken Shores, Patrick W. Siler, Art Smith, Paul Smith, Paolo Soleri, Bill Stewart, Robert Stull, Toshiko Takaezu, Gianni Toso, William Underhill, Daniel Loomis Valenza, Peter Vandenberge, Peter Voulkos, Susan Weitzman, William Wilhelmi, and Dorian Zachai

Irena Brynner
Patterned (Neckpiece), ca. 1965

1/2 x 5 3/8 inches diameter
Racine Art Museum, Gift of Karen Johnson Boyd
Photography: Jon Bolton, Racine

Wendell Castle
Desk (Silver Leaf Desk), 1967

Mahogany, cherry, plywood, gesso, and silver leaf
40 x 89 1/2 x 66 inches
Racine Art Museum, Gift of SC Johnson in Honor of the 50th Anniversary
of RAM’s Wustum Museum of Fine Arts
Photography: Jon Bolton, Racine

Howard Kottler
Like Father, Like Son from the Blue Boy Series, 1969

Glazed porcelain with lustres and ceramic decals, edition of 100
10 1/4 inches diameter
Racine Art Museum, Gift of Karen Johnson Boyd
Photography: Jon Bolton, Racine

Marvin Lipofsky and Gianni Toso
Venini Series 1972 #3, 1972

12 3/4 x 12 x 13 1/2 inches
Racine Art Museum, Gift of Karen Johnson Boyd
Photography: Jon Bolton, Racine

Art Smith
Purity Ring, ca. 1975

14k-gold and rose quartz
1 3/16 x 7/8 x 1/2 inches
Racine Art Museum, Gift of Karen Johnson Boyd
Photography: Jon Bolton, Racine

Peter Voulkos
Platter from the Circular Variations Series, ca. 1975

Glazed stoneware
16 inches diameter
Racine Art Museum, Promised Gift of Johnson Bank
Trustee of the QTIP Trust for Bill Boyd u/a Karen Johnson Boyd 1996 Trust
Photography: Jon Bolton, Racine


OBJECTS REDUX: 50 Years After OBJECTS: USA Define American Craft is made possible by:

Platinum Sponsors

Windgate Foundation

Diamond Sponsors
David Charak
Osborne and Scekic Family Foundation
Ruffo Family Foundation, Inc.

Gold Sponsors
Silver Sponsors
A. C. Buhler Family
Evinrude Outboard Motors
Lucy G. Feller
Dorothy MacVicar
Bronze Sponsors
John Cram and Matt Chambers
Barbara Delaney
Andrea and Tony Hauser
Fredrick and Deborah Ganaway
William A. Guenther
Kirsten and Emily Maki Foundation
The Norbell Foundation
Charles H. Patton and Family in Memory of Joan S. Patton


Janna and Dr. Edward Waldeck
Bill and Mary Walker
Media Sponsors