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James Prestini studied mechanical engineering at Yale, and then continued his study at the Institute for Design in Chicago. Prestini was a practitioner of the Bauhaus philosophy of art and craft, ideas that he expressed in the following quote from 1989: "Craft is the body of structure. Art is the soul of structure. Optimum creativity integrates both." He worked as a wood-turner from 1933-1953. He used straight-grained woods to create thin bowls with an appearance similar to glass and ceramics. In 1950 Edgar Kauffman, Jr. of the Museum of Modern Art commented on Prestini's contribution to modernism: "This feat has been Prestini's, to suggest within the limits of simple craft the human pathos of art and the clean, bold certainties of science. He has made grand things that are not overwhelming, beautiful things that are not personal unveilings, and simple things that do not urge usefulness to excuse their simplicity…Art or not, craft or not, bowls or plain shapes, they speak directly and amply of our day to our day." Prestini died in 1993 in Berkeley, CA where he had been a professor of fine arts at the University of California.
JAMES PRESTINI. American, 1908–1993
Untitled 1951
Mexican mahogany, lathe-turned
Gift of Jane and Arthur Mason. 1999.69.36