Arthur Handy was a Canadian sculptor who started his long career as an artist and teacher in ceramics before mastering the capabilities of other mediums. He would always return to clay periodically though, in his exploration of abstract impressionism.
I was fortunate enough to acquire some pieces of his work some time ago, initially knowing very little about him. The pieces were magnificent - powerful and unlike anything else I have in my collection. With a little digging however, I came to be immensely impressed by the man, his accomplished career and of course by his art. And while I primarily focus on the work of BC artists, exceptions have to be made, and Arthur Handy’s work justify this.
Born in New York City in 1933, Handy grew up under the influence of the dynamic American art of Jackson Pollock and the improvisational prowess of Miles Davis. Handy graduated Magna cum laude with a BFA from Alfred University in 1959, and again with a MFA in Ceramics in 1960 and upon completion, immediately took a job as the Head of Ceramics at the Ontario College of Art where he stayed until 1966.
His final couple of decades were spent teaching, exhibiting, and returning to clay now and again. When Arthur Handy passed away in 2004 he was remembered fondly for his gentle manner and his humility. Of his sculptural work it was said “his response was deft and light. His handling of form was immensely sophisticated, informed by deep knowledge of the history of ceramics and his love of looking at art.”
Arthur Handy’s work is in the collection of the Canada Council Art Bank, Alfred University, and the Royal Ontario Museum.
Canadian Ceramics 1961: April 4-May 7 Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto ; May 26-June 26 Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. (1961). Montreal: Canadian Guild of Potters.
Canadian sculpture today. (1964). Toronto: Dorothy Cameron Gallery.
Thompson, D. (1965, February 23). Display of Ceramics Sparks Craftsman - Artist Comparison. Calgary Herald.
Hale, B. (1977, April 23). The Physical Art. The Ottawa Citizen.
Arthur Handy: Ceramic sculpture, 1962-65 and 1985. (1985). Macdonald Stewart Art Centre 22 June - 4 August 1985. Guelph, Ont.: Macdonald Stewart Art Centre.
Flinn, S. (2004, December 4). The Magnificent Mystery of Mickey Handy. Halifax Chronicle Herald.
Studio Pottery Canada
Pottery enthusiast learning about the history of this Canadian art form and curating samples from the best in the field pre-1980.