Bauhaus-trained ceramist, educator, studio pottery innovator and founding faculty member for the School for American Crafts at Rochester Institute of Technology are all titles that belong to Frans Wildenhain.
Wildenhain’s legendary handcrafted artistry is featured in the exhibition “Frans Wildenhain 1950-75: Creative and Commercial American Ceramics at Mid-Century” from Aug. 20 through Oct. 2. In a first-time cross-gallery collaboration, the show runs simultaneously at two venues on RIT’s Henrietta campus—Bevier Gallery and National Technical Institute for the Deaf’s Dyer Arts Center.
Born in Leipzig, Germany, Wildenhain received his artistic training in the early 1920s at the Bauhaus pottery workshop. He emigrated to the U.S. following World War II and joined RIT in 1950 as a founding faculty member of the School for American Craftsman, now the School for American Crafts.
“In many significant ways, his life, his art, his career and his work encapsulate virtues that are models for us all,” says Bruce Austin, curator of the Wildenhain exhibit. “He was the consummate and complete artist, a business entrepreneur and innovator, and a mentor whose students today are internationally admired.”
An accompanying catalogue, Frans Wildenhain 1950-75: Creative and Commercial American Ceramics at Mid-Century, is comprised of scholarly essays, archival images and color photographs of the objects on display. The text includes Wildenhain’s biography, a history of RIT’s School for American Craftsmen, contextualization of Wildenhain’s art within mid-century modern U.S. ceramics and an investigation of the commercialization of crafts at Shop One.
The Wildenhain exhibit is a thematic extension of Austin’s previous exhibit, “The Arts & Crafts Movement in Western New York, 1900-1920.” Wildenhain advances the time frame, focusing on a single artist, to explore creative and commercial dimensions of artistic innovation.
For more information about the Frans Wildenhain exhibition, contact Austin at 585-475-2879 or go to www.rit.edu/wild.