Kewa Polychrome Pottery Jar with Aguilar Sisters Influence by Robert Tenorio [SOLD]


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Robert Tenorio, Kewa Pueblo Potter
  • Category: Contemporary
  • Origin: Kewa - Santo Domingo Pueblo
  • Medium: clay, pigment
  • Size: 9-1/4” height x 10-3/8” diameter
  • Item # C4248R
  • SOLD

This polychrome jar by Santo Domingo pueblo potter Robert Tenorio is a modern version of a style created by Felipita Aguilar Garcia and Asunción Aguilar Caté.  Garcia and Caté—or, as they are known by today’s collectors, the “Aguilar Sisters”—were innovative potters who developed beautiful variations on traditional Santo Domingo pottery in the early 1900s.  Their initial experiments were creative additions to the standard black-on-cream pottery designs. Their later pieces, made between 1910 and 1915, were polychrome and black-on-red jars that were unlike anything that had ever been produced.  A bold, almost reflective black serves as a hallmark of the Aguilar Sisters’ late-career works. Their black jars are rare, and highly sought-after by collectors of today.

With this jar, Robert Tenorio makes his admiration of the sisters very clear by presenting an even more modern version of the styles that the Aguilar Sisters developed.  The aforementioned black is a clear link to his predecessors, as are the series of U-shaped lines that the black pigment surrounds. This is the cream slip, actually, peeking through the elaborate designs painted onto it. Underneath the bold black design band is a series of red rectangles, which are framed by linked black lines.  Reaching down from the jar’s rim is a series of red semicircles, which are framed by cream slip and then surrounded by black. A ceremonial line break begins at the jar’s red underbody and travels all the way to its rim. Tenorio followed in the Aguilar sisters’ footsteps with this jar by creating a work that is both innovative and respectful of tradition.

The artist carved his signature—”Robert Tenorio, Santo Domingo Pueblo, N.M.” and a series of small stars—into the jar’s underbody.  The signature circles the jar just above its base.

Robert Tenorio (1950- ) is indisputably one of the finest potters of the 20th century from Kewa Pueblo (Santo Domingo). He has never stopped experimenting, learning, and trying. He has tried numerous plants as a source for the black paint, and he has tried numerous clays for the cream slip. Some work, some don’t, but he never tires of experimenting. Tenorio studied at the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) and on his own. He has studied styles, clays, slips, designs and forms. He has mastered the techniques of producing functional, usable pottery for his own use and the use of other members of the pueblo.


Condition: this Kewa Polychrome Pottery Jar with Aguilar Sisters Influence by Robert Tenorio is in very good condition with minor abrasions

Provenance: private collection

Recommended Viewing: Special Exhibit - Aguilar Sisters Historic Pottery of Santo Domingo Pueblo

Relative Links: Southwest Indian PotteryKewa - Santo Domingo PuebloContemporary PotteryRobert TenorioAndrea OrtizLupe Tenorio

Robert Tenorio (1950- ) artist signature