Jim Melchert

Anglim Gilbert Gallery, San Francisco (S6)

Anglim Gilbert Gallery presents a retrospective booth of internationally renowned American ceramicist, Jim Melchert (b.1930), known for exploring ceramics within the context of conceptual art. Included in the works on view will be rare video documentation of Melchert’s seminal performance work.

Melchert has long incorporated precepts of performance and chance in his work, revealing the potentiality of clay. Featured among the works on view is video documentation of Changes, Melchert’s seminal performance, originally staged in Amsterdam in 1972, and reprised at CAM Houston in 2010. For this work, ten participants dipped their heads in wet clay and sat in quiet communion as the material hardened. He writes: “We...were sitting across from one another in a kind of meditative state. People's heads looked beautiful. As the clay dried and began cracking open, we left our sensory isolation and returned to the group, silently experiencing the sensation of clay drying on our skin.”  A survey of Melchert’s ceramic sculptures, tiles (c. 1968 - 1990s), and graphite rubbings of photographs (1976-77), will accompany Changes.

Jim Melchert (b.1930, Ohio; lives and works in California) is aligned with Bay Area conceptualism. He studied at the University of Chicago, the Archie Bray Foundation (Montana), and UC Berkeley. As an artist and cultural diplomat, he taught in postwar Japan, and would eventually head the NEA in 1977, and the American Academy in Rome from 1984-88.  His cultural engagements presaged the idea of art as social practice.