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.

Vertical Sculpture, Spear Form

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

Among his earliest large-scale sculptures, Vertical Sculpture, Spear Form evokes a prehistoric totem. Its glazed surface exploits the qualities of the clay material to at once express organic imperfection and the clean forms of geometric abstraction. Mason began working primarily in clay while attending the Otis Art Institute from 1949 to 1952. Working closely with Peter Voulkos and his circle of ceramicists, Mason developed an art of monumental forms that suggest a keen attention to sculptural presence.

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Exhibition audio: John Mason and Getty curator Andrew Perchuk talk about Mason’s sculpture.

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Exhibition audio: Mason’s ceramic innovations

Historic Map Locations

Works of Art

  • 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

  • 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