MAD is closed today

In Memoriam: June Schwarcz

Oct 13–Feb 4

June Schwarcz

June Schwarcz (United States, 1918–2015) was a master enamelist, whose pioneering contributions to this medium and our institution are honored here. Her work was featured in the Museum of Arts and Design’s first exhibition, Craftsmanship in a Changing World (1956), as well as in the landmark shows Enamels (1959) and Objects: USA (1969).

Schwarcz discovered enameling in 1954 in a class she took at the Denver Art Museum. That same year she settled in Sausalito, California, where she continued to work and perfect her methods throughout her life. Her innovative basse-taille enameling technique can be seen prominently in the work Process Demonstration Bowl for Bowl #332 (1959). The work represents an early step in the enameling process, which entailed darkening some areas of the ovoid bowl with a masking agent (usually asphalt varnish, rosin, or lithographic crayon), in this case to make a striped “melon” pattern. She then immersed the piece in an acid bath to etch the unmasked, exposed copper. To create the final product, Bowl #332 (1959), she applied layers of transparent enamel colors and fired the piece multiple times. 

“Transparent enamel has been fascinating to me because of its ability to catch and reflect light,” Schwarcz said. “At times the transparent enameled surface seems to expand its boundaries. Many of my bowls are designed to seem to contain light.”

In Memoriam: June Schwarcz is curated by Assistant Curator Barbara Paris Gifford

Get Updates from MAD

* indicates required