Major Contemporary Ceramics Collection Gifted to Crocker Art Museum

The Crocker Art Museum has received a gift of an encyclopedic collection of 20th-century ceramics, comprised of nearly 800 works by more than 300 artists. The collection, given by Syndey Swidler, brings to the Museum a fully developed view of the medium from the early-20th-century to the present. Works by some of the most prominent artists in contemporary international ceramics are featured in the collection, including Curtis Benzle, Colin Pearson, Angela Verdon, Val Cushing and Jeffrey Swindell. The Swidler Collection will be showcased as one of the inaugural exhibits when the Crocker opens its 125,000-square-foot expansion in 2010.

curtis-benzleSidney Swidler practiced modernist architecture for many years before retiring, and his fascination with ceramics as a collector was influenced by his work as a designer. After his first careful acquisitions, he became increasingly avid, acquiring signature forms from well known American artists. He went on to collect pieces by Danish, Japanese, German, Canadian and Australian artists, as well as works by a complete roster of the foremost 20th-century British ceramicists. Today this single collection encompasses pieces in styles from the avant-garde to the traditional and the rustic and features pieces by both renowned and emerging artists. The gift of Swidler’s collection builds upon the Crocker’s already strong holdings in ceramics, including a range of influential works by Japanese and West Coast artists.

“We are deeply appreciative of Mr. Swidler’s generosity in making this gift to the Crocker Art Museum. His extraordinary gift makes the Museum one of the world’s premiere centers for the exhibition and study of 20th-century ceramics. And we are looking forward to sharing these outstanding works with the public in our new galleries,” said Diana L. Daniels, associate curator, Crocker Art Museum.

“The Crocker Art Museum is the perfect match for this gift,” said Swidler. “The new Crocker will offer extensive space dedicated to ceramics, and I’m especially pleased works from my collections will be available for so many people to enjoy.”

The Crocker Art Museum was founded in 1885 and continues as the leading art institution for the California Capital Region and Central Valley. The Museum offers a diverse spectrum of special exhibitions, events and programs to augment its collections of California, European and Asian artworks. The Crocker is located at 216 O Street in Downtown Sacramento. Museum hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Tuesday-Sunday; 1st and 3rd Thursdays until 9 p.m. Free admission on Sundays from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. is made possible through the support of Bank of America. For more information on exhibits and events call (916) 808-7000 or visit

Image: Curtis Benzle, Sculptural Form, 1985. Porcelain, hand-built with inlaid colors, 6 1/4 x 6 1/2 in. Crocker Art Museum, promised gift of Sidney Swidler. Photography by Jesse Bravo.