Explore the Era

Delve into the postwar Los Angeles art world in this online archive, which provides additional material related to the exhibitions on view at the Getty Center. Learn about hipsters and happenings, and the venues across the city where all the action took place through images from the archives and first-hand accounts with the artists.

John Mason

John Mason compacting clay

John Mason compacting clay onto his easel for a large ceramic relief in his Glendale Boulevard studio in Los Angeles, 1959–60. Image courtesy John Mason Studio. © Robert Bucknam

John Mason (born 1927) was raised in the Midwest and Nevada, and moved to Los Angeles at the age of 22 to study ceramics at Otis Art Institute. In 1954, following a short stint at Chouinard Art Institute, Mason returned to Otis to train in ceramics under artist Peter Voulkos. Mason and Voulkos developed a close working relationship, sharing a studio where they developed new equipment for experimenting with ceramics, exploring new possibilities in scale, surface quality, and technique. After meeting Walter Hopps and Edward Kienholz in 1957, Mason joined the stable of artists at the Ferus Gallery, exhibiting there several times until the gallery’s closure in 1966.

Historic Map Locations

Works of Art

  • Vertical Sculpture, Spear Form

    Vertical Sculpture, Spear Form, 1957, John Mason. Glazed stoneware. 67 5/16 x 28 x 12 in. Aichi Prefectural Ceramic Museum. © John Mason

  • Orange Cross

    Orange Cross, 1963, John Mason. Ceramic with glaze. 64 x 49 x 16 in. Collection of Vernita Mason. © John Mason. Photo by Roxanne Hall Morganti

  • Blue Wall

    Blue Wall, 1959, John Mason. Ceramic. 96 x 252 x 8 in. Collection of the artist. © John Mason. Photo by Anthony Cuñha

Explore the Archive

  • Video: Peter Voulkos

    Video: Irving Blum, John Mason, and Billy Al Bengston speak about the work of Peter Voulkos, 2010–11

  • Video: John Mason

    Video: John Mason speaks about his work, March 2010

  • John Mason with Andrew Perchuk

    Andrew Perchuk, Getty Research Institute, with John Mason inspecting Mason’s sculpture Orange Cross, 2010. © J. Paul Getty Trust

  • John Mason and Peter Voulkos

    John Mason and Peter Voulkos photographing a sculpture outside their shared studio on Glendale Boulevard in Los Angeles, ca. 1959. Courtesy of the Voulkos & Co. Catalogue Project

  • Peter Voulkos, John Mason, and Paul Soldner

    Peter Voulkos, John Mason, and Paul Soldner at Otis Art Institute (now called Otis College of Art and Design) in Los Angeles, 1956. Image courtesy of Soldner Enterprises and Stephanie Soldner Sullivan