“So,” actor Seth Rogen wrote on Instagram on April 14, 2019, “maybe I joined a pottery studio so I could start making my own ashtrays.”
It didn’t take long for the actor-stoner-director-stoner to fall head over heels for the discipline. Soon, he was posting vases. An ashtray with a matching vase. More vases! More ashtrays! Flowerpots!
Rogen is far from the only celebrity to take up art—in fact, he’s not even the only celeb to take up pottery lately. But he has pursued the craft with a unique vigor, turning his Instagram into an account of his studio exploits and telling actor Ben Barna in Interview that he and his wife, actress Lauren Miller, have pursued it “in every moment we could.”
That’s all very nice. But is his stuff any good?
Artnet News consulted two expert pottery instructors in our home city of New York to find out.
Robert Silverman Head of Pottery Studios, 92nd Street Y
For somebody who is not doing this professionally, who started recently, he has an interesting predisposition to surface, and he has a sophisticated sense for it in terms of the palate of glazes he chooses and the way he layers them. Most people who get into pottery as hobbyists focus on form, and when it comes to glazes, they’re thinking, “Okay, what do I put on this pot?”
I could easily see him coming up with the surface first and then finding a form to fit that. To me, even with somebody’s earliest pieces, you get an idea about what their interests are. They’re the most pure. So this interest is probably going to follow him throughout his ceramic career.
Even his first pieces have color. As you go along, he starts layering glazes and finding textures within glazes. With the recent Instagram post that has 1.7 million views, it’s the complexity of that surface is really what’s driving all the attention.
In terms of historical precedents, I think of California practitioners from the ‘50s and ‘60s like Glen Lukens. There’s also Lucie Rie, who was very influential in the studio pottery movement in England.
He’s well accomplished. He’s doing really well, since I can’t imagine he’s doing this full-time. Whatever time he’s got, he’s utilizing it in a way that’s very productive.
Outi PutkonenOwner, MUGI Pottery
It’s always amazing when a famous person spreads the gospel of love for pottery.
His work is really quite interesting. He obviously hasn’t been doing this for very long, so technically it may not be the most accomplished, but the surfaces are fabulous. He’s very playful. He’s trying to accomplish lots of different textures and colors and variations on a theme.
His latest post definitely recalls the work of the sculptor Ken Price, though while Price created his surfaces with acrylic paint, I think Rogen is doing it with slips, just layering and then scratching through. Some of his pieces recall George Ohr, and some Otto Natzler.
Here at MUGI we don’t do grades. We encourage people to explore their path and materialize their vision, to see how they can reach their visual goals.
Without having handled Rogen’s pieces, without knowing about their construction, I couldn’t grade him on that. But for surface, he gets an A.
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