TMA Adds Monumental Ceramic Work by Viola Frey to its Permanent Collection

Eye On Art  |  08/27/2019 11:00 am

The Toledo Museum of Art (TMA) has added Man and World to its permanent collection. The monumental ceramic by Viola Frey (1933-2004), was purchased for TMA by the Georgia Welles Apollo Society, a group of donors that generously supports the Museum through art acquisitions. Objects are purchased annually using the group’s pooled funds.   

At more than 11 feet long from tip of the toe to the edge of the world, Man and World is a massive sculptural work with bright patches of color.

“Frey is one of the most important ceramic artists of the 20th century,” explained Diane Wright, TMA’s curator of glass and decorative arts. “Man and World exemplifies the large-scale figural work for which she is known and celebrated and TMA is fortunate to be able to add it to the collection.”

Viola spent her career experimenting with scale, expanding from pedestal-sized to large-scale ceramics, Wright explained.

Frey was prolific and produced an astounding array of work. Although she is largely known for making and teaching ceramics, her practice included bronze sculpture, paintings, and drawings, as well as glass, wallpaper, and photography

Building from the ground up with a handful of clay at a time, Frey used scaffolding to build ceramic work that surpassed her five-foot height. Once a figure and world were built and dried, the clay was cut into sections with a saw for firing.

“Even in his seated position with legs outstretched, we can appreciate the immense scale of the man and hopefully have begun to think about his situation,” Wright said. “His back to the Earth seems to be telling us something about his stature and place in the world. Is this a moment of triumph or a moment of vulnerability?”

Man and World is now on display in Levis Gallery as part of the exhibition Global Conversations: Art in Dialogue. This exhibition is sponsored by the Ohio Arts Council with additional support from 2019 Exhibition Program Sponsor ProMedica.

The Georgia Welles Apollo Society is named for the Museum’s Henri Matisse mural, Apollo, as well as the group’s 1986 founders, Georgia and David Welles. The Georgia Welles Apollo Society has purchased more than 50 of works of art for TMA over the past 30 years.

Each year, the group works with one of the Museum’s curators to select one or more work(s) to purchase for the Museum’s collections with their pooled membership dues. For additional information about joining the Georgia Welles Apollo Society, please contact Todd Ahrens, the Museum’s director of development, at (419) 255-8000 ext. 7421 or