Robert A. Ellison Jr. started collecting ceramics in the 1960s and, in the decades since, helped transform the ways that ceramics are regarded and the histories that inform different traditions throughout the ages. Now 88 years old, Ellison has given momentous gifts to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which since 2009 has acquired more than 600 works from his collection spanning several centuries. His latest donation of 125 works of modern and contemporary ceramic art figures in “Shapes from Out of Nowhere: Ceramics from the Robert A. Ellison Jr. Collection,” an exhibition and accompanying publication devoted to abstract and non-representational ceramics from the early 20th century to the present. On the phone with ARTnews, Ellison talked about the transition of his early interest from painting to ceramics, how he trained his eye, and how it feels to give his many decades’ worth of holdings away.
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