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Exhibition Catalog

Frans Wildenhain catalog
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Frans Wildenhain, 1950-75: Creative and Commercial American Ceramics at Mid-Century
By Bruce A. Austin, Photography by A. Sue Weisler, With essays by Jonathan Clancy and Becky Simmons

An in-depth analysis of Frans Wildenhain and his role in mid-century studio ceramics, university education in handcrafts and his innovative and entrepreneurial role in merchandizing crafts. Published to accompany the exhibition of the same name (Aug. 20 - Oct. 2, 2012). The book features archival images as well as more than 150 rich, color photographs of the ceramics on exhibit. Six chapters offer contributions to scholarship on the artist, mid-century studio pottery and modern design, monetizing and commercial acceptance of mid-century handcrafted art at an innovative artists' cooperative, university education at the School for American Craftsmen, and an interview with collector Robert Johnson who donated his Wildenhain collection to RIT. The book is an essential document of the exhibition and an excellent reference for those interested in ceramics, crafts, mid-century design and art entrepreneurship. Read reviews of the book.

Frans Wildenhain 1950-75: Creative and Commercial American Ceramics at Mid-Century by Bruce A. Austin with photography by A. Sue Weisler and essays by Jonathan Clancy and Becky Simmons. Hard cover with dust jacket, 10" x 9", 256 pages, 20+ b &w archival photos, more than 150 original color photos. $50.00 ISBN 978-0-615-64527-8 Publication Date: August 15, 2012

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The last student to enter the Bauhaus pottery in 1925, Frans Wildenhain flourished under the demanding tutelage of the Bauhaus masters. Wildenhain emigrated to the U.S. following World War II settling, first and briefly, at the artists' commune at Pond Farm, north of San Francisco. Soon, in 1950, he was recruited as one of the founding faculty for the newly installed School for American Craftsmen at the Rochester Institute of Technology where he taught for two decades. Internationally recognized with awards, citations and fellowships, Wildenhain became widely known for his impressive and enormous ceramic murals and diverse artistry in clay. By Bruce A. Austin

The History of SAC at RIT

The long-held vision of Aileen Osborn Webb for a school devoted solely to rigorous training in handcrafts was finally realized when the Rochester Institute of Technology acquired the School for American Craftsmen in 1950. Dovetailing with the rise of the studio crafts movement and the explosion in college enrollment fueled by the GI Bill, SAC became an incubator for internationally recognized artists across media. By Becky Simmons. Ms. Simmons manages RIT's Archive and Art Collection. Recent publications include: co-author, Past Meets Present: Recovering the History of Women at Rochester Institute of Technology, 1885-1945; and contributor: View It: The Art and Architecture of RIT and Encyclopedia of 19th Century Photography.

"No medium for the craftsman unsure of himself": Studio pottery after World War 2

A revealing and insightful discussion of the studio crafts movement situating Wildenhain's oeuvre within the broader contexts of art and crafts. Rejecting the surface decoration and glitter of the Art Deco movement, embracing the essentially abstract nature of ceramics, and understanding craft and clay as a medium for self-expression, mid-century studio potters shaped ceramic practice and its appreciation. By Jonathan Clancy. Dr. Clancy is co-author of The Beauty of Common Things: American Art Pottery from the Two Red Roses Foundation, curator, and Program Director of American Fine & Decorative Art at Sotheby's Institute of Art.

Selling Crafts at Mid-century: Moving the Merch at Shop One

In the mid-1950s there were two places in America to go that offered only handcrafted objects: 54th Street near Madison Avenue in New York City or Troup Street in Rochester, NY. In Manhattan there was America House. In Rochester, Shop One. The innovative artists' cooperative initiated by Wildenhain and three colleagues became a model and inspiration for craft artists internationally. Its story, their story - and ours - is presented in this critical history. By Bruce A. Austin

Interview with Robert Johnson

A conversation with Wildenhain collector Robert Bradley Johnson. An optical engineer at Eastman Kodak for 30 years, he made his first purchase of Wildenhain pottery in 1955 at Shop One. Over the next quarter century Johnson amassed the largest and most representative collection of Wildenhain's work with examples from each stage of the artist's career and inspiration. By Bruce A. Austin