Painterly Surfaces on Canvases of Clay

03_VF Falling Man in blue suit03_VF Falling Man in blue suit

Installation view of Viola Frey, “Falling Man In Suit” (1991), ceramic, 74 x 89 x 73 inches (all photos by the author for Hyperallergic, all images courtesy Nancy Hoffman Gallery)

Viola Frey, a powerful woman and rule-busting artist, has not been given enough credit for the ways in which she changed the game for artists working in clay. The exhibition currently at Nancy Hoffman Gallery should help to remedy that problem. The show, entitled Viola Frey: A Personal Iconography is a thrilling if somewhat uneven overview of what I would call, unabashedly, an important artist of the late 20th century.

That the work in the show is uneven is, to me, part of what made Frey a brilliant artist. She didn’t shy away from working outside the

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