Daniel Kelly, born in 1947 in Great Falls, Montana, was raised in Idaho Falls, Idaho. He received BFA and MS degrees in Oregon (University of Portland and Portland State University). He then moved to San Francisco, where he produced ceramics and blown glass before studying romantic-expressionist painting with Morton Levin (born 1923). Kelly relocated to Kyoto in 1977 to study printmaking with Tomikichirô Tokuriki (徳力富吉郞 1902-2000) and has remained there ever since. He now works in a variety of media, including lithography, etching, cement-relief block prints, multi-media prints, and painting. His themes feature quiet landscapes, bold colorful still lifes, carp (koi, 鲤), paper lanterns (chôchin), and ceramic bowls. Kelly has also produced innovative self-portraits and images of tattooed young women. He incorporates handmade papers, chine collé, tatami straw mats, and encaustic. Among his distinctive techniques is a method of making block prints by applying a wet-cement and polyvinyl-glue mixture to a wooden plank and sculpting it into a raised surface to hold ink for printing.
Kelly's works are in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, NY, Metropolitan Museum of Art; British Museum, London; Smithsonian Sackler Gallery, Wash, DC.; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Brooklyn Museum, NY; New York Public Library; Museum Fine Art, Portland, Oregon; and Museum of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia.
China Bowl is a fine example of Kelly's much-admired ceramic bowls. Hollis Goodall, in her introduction to the book cited below, describes his methodology: "Kelly's approach to the bowl started with depiction of the basic ceramic form, drawing its outlines with quick, simple strokes then employing contrasts of light and dark to sculpt the hollowed-out shape. He began to play with the perceived visual distortion of the bowl's ornamented painted motifs as they curve away and out of sight of the viewer. The motifs he drew on the faces of the bowls, which he combined from details of objects observed in museums or seen in art books, were appealing to Kelly as subject matter, but played a more critical role in his compositions as vehicles for experimenting with distortion, complex layering of shapes and textures, and gestural brushwork. In the reflective surfaces of the bowls, sometimes a photographer's flash or overhead light can be detected, and in those depictions that closely follow a known masterwork, even the speed of the potter's wheel and brush are retained in Kelly's image."
In China Bowl, we can see the decorative red forms seemingly floating above the bowl. Near the upper left, there is indeed a hand-painted splash of white paint that seems to mimic the reflection of a camera flash. The truncation of the bowl at the top and expecially along the right side contributes to a slightly disorienting perspective, as does the tilt of the bowl affording the observer with a view of the bowl's interior. Moreover, the chine collé (images inked on tissue-thin paper that is bonded to a heavier paper support) vary on all impressions, making each print of China Bowl a unique rendering of the subject. In our example, there are three sheets of chine collé, with one notably extending far beyond the rim of the bowl at the upper left.
Kelly's early large prints of bowls, with their imposing scale and unconventional presentation, have become much sought-after among collectors and curators of modern prints.
- Daniel Kelly: An American Artist in Japan (Kodansha, 2010), pp. 12 and 120.