Artists & Designers

Elsa Rady (1943-2011)

Ceramicist Elsa Rady was born in New York City to a family of artists. Her mother Lily Mehlman Rady had been a Martha Graham dancer, and her father, Simon Rady, was a record company executive and producer. From 1962 to 1966 she studied ceramics at the Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles (now the California Institute of the Arts) with renowned ceramic artists Ralph Bacerra and Otto and Vivika Heino. Rady's teachers encouraged fresh interpretation of traditional ceramic shapes and techniques, which led her to focus on vessels made of porcelain. In the late 1960s, Rady spent two years at the Interpace China Corp. of Glendale, designing tiles and border decorations for dinnerware. She returned to Interpace from 1989 to 1994 and also designed modern wares for the Swid Powell company.

Liberated from the tabletop and mounted on the wall, her objects described as "exquisite," "delicate," and "graceful" push the definitions of ceramics and sculpture. "Elsa was a truly extraordinary artist," said Harold B. Nelson, curator of American decorative arts at the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens. "Her work—like her approach to life itself—was spare, serene, and elegant." She evolved from creating functional objects to creating the delicate, spare, nonfunctional pieces for which she is best remembered today.

During her lifetime, Rady exhibited at galleries around the world, and today her ceramics can be found in the Dallas Museum of Art, as well as other prestigious art collections including the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and LACMA.

Drawn from

Valerie J. Nelson, Elsa Rady dies at 67; leading contemporary ceramic artist, Los Angeles Times, February 06, 2011,, accessed April 25, 2016.