Ken Price and Harvey Mudd:
The Plain of Smokes

September 14 – December 19, 2014

Mana Contemporary and Gary Lichtenstein Editions at Mana present Ken Price and Harvey Mudd: The Plain of Smokes, an exhibition featuring thirty original silkscreen prints Price created to illustrate a 75-page poem cycle written by Mudd


Published by Arabesque Books in 1981, The Plain of Smokes is an ode to the Los Angeles that shaped both the artist and the poet. The process, which began in 1978, of conceptualizing, developing, and creating The Plain of Smokes, has been described by many, including its author, as the true definition of the word “collaboration.” Mudd and Price continually motivated revision in each other’s work, resulting in a thought-provoking visualization of the dialogue between two artists.

Arabesque Books asked Gary Lichtenstein of SOMA Fine Art Press in San Francisco to print Price’s multilayered paintings featuring pencil, gouache, watercolor, and india ink for the book. In order to translate every last nuance of color relationship and texture from the original work into printer’s ink, Lichtenstein deconstructed Price’s work layer by layer. The most complicated image in the series, “Club Zebra,” required 28 color separations and nearly 5,000 passes through the hand press to print 186 copies. The prints’ “painterly” qualities are a stunning testament to Lichtenstein’s mastery.

Ken Price (1935-2012) emerged in the 1960s with a group of Los Angeles-based “surfer artists” that included, among others, Ed Ruscha, Robert Irwin, and Larry Bell. Price is known principally as a ceramicist yet throughout his career he has commanded a unique position between sculpture and painting. An artist who is celebrated for challenging conventional ideals and definitions, Price is a technical master of form, color, and surface.

Harvey Mudd (1940) is a writer, painter, and photographer. His first of four books of poetry was published in 1976, and the third, The Plain of Smokes, was short-listed for the Los Angeles Times Poetry Prize. New Mexico was Mudd’s primary home for roughly 20 years and it was there that he met Price.


Press Release

Orange Grove, 1981
Untitled, 1981
Bathtub, 1981
Club Zebra, 1981
Untitled, 1981
Untitled, 1981