Robert Ellison Collection of Ceramics

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York received another large donation of ceramics from Robert A. Ellison, Jr., and recently rolled out a new exhibition of 80 pieces entitled “Shapes From Out of Nowhere: Ceramics from the Robert A. Ellison, Jr. Collection.”

Robert Ellison started collecting ceramics in the 1960s – pieces that attracted him as an abstract expressionist painter. Over the years, his collection grew to over 600 items. In 2009 he began donating pieces from his collection to the Met, including this latest donation of 125 pieces which form the core of the new exhibition.

Andy Battaglia published an interview with Robert Ellison in ARTnews on March 18, 2021 entitled “Collector Robert Ellison Is Transforming the Way Ceramics Are Seen at the Met and the World Over.” In the interview, Ellison describes how he started collecting ceramics during breaks from painting, and gradually developed his sense of what to look for in ceramics. He sought out people doing “interesting work” and slowly built up his expertise. He tended to focus on one type of ceramic, build out his knowledge and his collection in that area, and then move on.

The interview inspires me because Ellison, a regular guy, started collecting things that interested him on a microscopic budget, and through diligence and persistence amassed what turned out to be a world-class art collection.

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