description of Tientos by Peter Voulkos

This clay sculpture stands four and a half feet tall, is two and a half feet wide at its base, and is vaguely conical in shape. It resembles a gray desert hoodoo: a tall spire of rock, eroded into an irregular shape over time. The bottom portion of the sculpture features small caves and closed-in rooms with rough windows, giving the sculpture the appearance of a haphazard termite mound. Near the middle of the piece, the rooms and caves begin to stretch and distort, and resemble sagging, gaping mouths. Near the top, the caves and clay shapes become more abstract and decorative. Some of the stacked elements resemble crude masks or helmets, while others resemble melting bowls.

Peter Voulkos, Tientos, 1959
Peter Voulkos, Tientos, 1959; clay with iron glazes, 55 in. x 19 in. x 30 in. (139.7 cm x 48.26 cm x 76.2 cm); Collection SFMOMA, Purchase through a gift of Phyllis C. Wattis and gift of Gregory LaChapelle; © Estate of Peter Voulkos

Artwork Info

Artwork title
Artist name
Peter Voulkos
Date created
clay with iron glazes
55 in. x 19 in. x 30 in. (139.7 cm x 48.26 cm x 76.2 cm)
Date acquired
Collection SFMOMA
Purchase through a gift of Phyllis C. Wattis and gift of Gregory LaChapelle
© Estate of Peter Voulkos
Permanent URL
Artwork status
Not on view at this time.

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