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.

Orange Cross

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

With its vertical orientation, human scale, and skin-like glaze, Orange Cross is one of Mason’s more anthropomorphic works. The glossy coating highlights the sculpture’s variegated color and surface texture. Alternating patches of rough and smooth clay, and the visible drips and modulations of the glaze, suggest a spontaneous imperfection that belies the technical difficulty of the piece. 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. By working on a larger scale, Mason explored the difficult processes of cantilevering, modeling, drying, and firing his clay sculptures, yet produced ground breaking works of abstract ceramic sculpture.

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

  • 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