George E. Ohr

Last updated
George Edgar Ohr
George E Ohr.jpg
The "Mad Potter of Biloxi"
BornJuly 12, 1857
DiedApril 7, 1918(1918-04-07) (aged 60)
Residence New Orleans, Louisiana
Nationality American
EducationJoseph Fortune Meyer
Known for Pottery
Style Abstract Expressionism
MovementAmerican Abstract Expressionism
Spouse(s)Josephine Gehring
Partner(s)Josephine Gehring
Memorial(s) Ohr-O'Keefe Museum Of Art
Interior of Ohr's rebuilt workshop, 1901 George E. Ohr pottery workshop.jpg
Interior of Ohr's rebuilt workshop, 1901

George Edgar Ohr (July 12, 1857  April 7, 1918) was an American ceramic artist and the self-proclaimed "Mad Potter of Biloxi" in Mississippi. [1] In recognition of his innovative experimentation with modern clay forms from 1880–1910, some consider him a precursor to the American Abstract-Expressionism movement. [2]

United States Federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country composed of 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe's 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the largest city by population is New York City. Forty-eight states and the capital's federal district are contiguous in North America between Canada and Mexico. The State of Alaska is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across the Bering Strait from Russia to the west. The State of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific Ocean. The U.S. territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, stretching across nine official time zones. The extremely diverse geography, climate, and wildlife of the United States make it one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries.

Ceramic inorganic, nonmetallic solid prepared by the action of heat

A ceramic is a solid material comprising an inorganic compound of metal, non-metal or metalloid atoms primarily held in ionic and covalent bonds. Common examples are earthenware, porcelain, and brick.

Mississippi State of the United States of America

Mississippi is a state located in the southeastern region of the United States. Mississippi is the 32nd most extensive and 34th most populous of the 50 United States. It is bordered by Tennessee to the north, Alabama to the east, the Gulf of Mexico and Louisiana to the south, and Arkansas and Louisiana to the west. The state's western boundary is largely defined by the Mississippi River. Jackson, with a population of approximately 167,000 people, is both the state's capital and largest city.

Contents

Personal life

George Ohr was born in Biloxi, Mississippi, on July 12, 1857. He was the son of German immigrants who arrived in New Orleans c. 1850 and subsequently married and moved to Biloxi. George Ohr tried his hand at various trades before he became interested in ceramics in 1879, while an apprentice of Joseph Fortune Meyer. Ohr married Josephine Gehring of New Orleans on September 15, 1886. Ten children were born to the Ohrs, but unfortunately only 5 survived to adulthood. George Ohr died of throat cancer on April 7, 1918. [3]

Biloxi, Mississippi City in Mississippi, United States

Biloxi is a city and one of two county seats of Harrison County, Mississippi, United States. The 2010 United States Census recorded the population as 44,054, and in 2016 the estimated population was 45,975. The area was first settled by French colonists.

New Orleans Largest city in Louisiana

New Orleans is a consolidated city-parish located along the Mississippi River in the southeastern region of the U.S. state of Louisiana. With an estimated population of 393,292 in 2017, it is the most populous city in Louisiana. A major port, New Orleans is considered an economic and commercial hub for the broader Gulf Coast region of the United States.

Ohr’s eccentric pottery did not sell well in his lifetime. As his work went unnoticed, unsold, he said, “I have a notion that I am a mistake." Yet he predicted, “When I am gone, my work will be praised, honored, and cherished. It will come.” [4]

Ohr studied the potter's trade with Joseph Meyer in New Orleans, a potter whose family hailed from Alsace-Lorraine, as did Ohr's. [5] Ohr's father had established the first blacksmith shop in Biloxi and his mother ran an early, popular grocery store there. [6] In his lifetime, Ohr created well over 10,000 known pots. He called his work "unequaled, undisputed, unrivaled." [7] In 1884, Ohr exhibited and sold his pottery at the World's Industrial and Cotton Centennial Exposition in New Orleans. [8] Of the hundreds of pieces he showed, Ohr boasted "no two alike." [9]

Alsace-Lorraine Territory created by the German Empire in 1871

The Imperial Territory of Alsace-Lorraine was a territory created by the German Empire in 1871, after it annexed most of Alsace and the Moselle department of Lorraine following its victory in the Franco-Prussian War. The Alsatian part lay in the Rhine Valley on the west bank of the Rhine River and east of the Vosges Mountains. The Lorraine section was in the upper Moselle valley to the north of the Vosges.

Blacksmith person who creates wrought iron or steel products by forging, hammering, bending, and cutting

A blacksmith is a metalsmith who creates objects from wrought iron or steel by forging the metal, using tools to hammer, bend, and cut. Blacksmiths produce objects such as gates, grilles, railings, light fixtures, furniture, sculpture, tools, agricultural implements, decorative and religious items, cooking utensils and weapons.

Grocery store retail store that primarily sells food and other household supplies

A grocery store or grocer's shop is a retail shop that primarily sells food. A grocer is a bulk seller of food.

The 1894 fire that burned most of Biloxi also destroyed Ohr's workshop, and it has been noted that Ohr's post-fire works show tremendous "energy" and "fluidity." [8] George Ohr called his pots "mud babies". Upon the destruction of his workshop and his work, he gathered the pieces that survived the fire, and although burned, he kept each piece, calling them his " burned babies". [10]

Work

Ohr-O'Keefe Museum's "Pods" by Frank Gehry Ohr-OKeefeMuseum.jpg
Ohr-O'Keefe Museum's "Pods" by Frank Gehry

Ohr died largely unknown in 1918. For decades, his pots sat in a garage behind his sons’ gas station in Biloxi. [11] Ohr's work is now seen as ground-breaking and a harbinger of the abstract sculpture and pottery that developed in the mid-20th century; his pieces are now relatively rare and highly coveted. [12]

A notable feature of Ohr's pottery is its thin walls, metallic glazes, and twisted, pinched shapes; to this day, few potters have been able to replicate them using a pottery wheel, which is how Ohr made his works. Ohr dug much of his clay locally in southern Mississippi from the Tchoutacabouffa River. [8] Tchoutacabouffa is the Biloxi tribe's word for "broken pot." [13]

He called himself the "Mad Potter of Biloxi", groomed himself eccentrically, and inscribed this bawdy poem on the side of some of his pots: "Molly and I were on the beach engaged in nature's folly, The sand was hot upon my back but the sun was hot to Molly." [14]

The Ohr-O'Keefe Museum of Art

The Ohr-O'Keefe Museum Of Art in Biloxi has a large permanent collection of Ohr's work. Three buildings of the new campus designed by Frank Gehry opened to the public on November 8, 2010, with several exhibitions, including a large selection of work by George Ohr. In addition to the Gehry-designed buildings, the Pleasant Reed Interpretive Center is also open to the public.

The museum campus was partially destroyed during Hurricane Katrina when a casino barge was washed onto the semi-constructed facility. Visitors can view the construction that is planned to continue on the western part of the campus, beginning with the Center for Ceramics building, followed by the George E. Ohr "Pods," scheduled to be completed in 2012.

From 2007 - 2010 Ohr Rising: The Emergence of an American Master, a major national exhibition of Ohr pottery, traveled to Pomona, California; San Angelo, Texas; Alfred, New York; Toronto, Canada; and the Louisiana State University Museum of Art in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Many of those pieces, as well as several that have never been displayed, can now be seen at the Ohr-O'Keefe Museum of Art.

Aerial view of the casino barge washed onto the site of the Ohr-O'Keefe Museum in September 2005 Katrina-biloxi-miss-grand-casino2-2005.jpg
Aerial view of the casino barge washed onto the site of the Ohr-O'Keefe Museum in September 2005

Two new Frank-Gehry designed buildings are scheduled to open in 2012. The City of Biloxi Center for Ceramics will open in late spring/early summer 2012 and will be used for classes in ceramics and other art. The Center for Ceramics will also contain community meeting areas.

Related Research Articles

Studio pottery is pottery made by professional and amateur artists or artisans working alone or in small groups, making unique items or short runs. Typically, all stages of manufacture are carried out by the artists themselves. Studio pottery includes functional wares such as tableware and cookware, and non-functional wares such as sculpture. Studio potters can be referred to as ceramic artists, ceramists, ceramicists or as an artist who uses clay as a medium. Much studio pottery is tableware or cookware, but an increasing number of studio potters produce non-functional or sculptural items. In Britain since the 1980s, there has been a distinct trend away from functional pottery, for example, the work of artist Grayson Perry. Some studio potters now prefer to call themselves ceramic artists, ceramists or simply artists. Studio pottery is represented by potters all over the world and has strong roots in Britain.

Hans Coper British artist

Hans Coper, was an influential German-born British studio potter. His work is often coupled with that of Lucie Rie due to their close association, even though their best known work differs dramatically, with Rie's being less sculptural, while Coper's was much more abstract, but also always functional. The latter point was noted by M. S. Thomas in his recent book "The Essential Potness." Coper always made functional vessels, principally containers for flowers (vases), fruit (bowls), candles including work for Coventry Cathedral and Sussex University meeting house. He made a small group of Figures in the fifties, which were not vessels and were never put on sale.

Bennett Bean artist

Bennett Bean is an American ceramic artist. Although commonly described as a studio potter, some would characterize him as a sculptor and painter who works primarily in studio pottery. Bean resides in Frelinghuysen Township, New Jersey. Bean is best known for his pit fired white earthenware vessels, especially his collectible, non-functional bowls and teapots. His ceramics works are often asymmetrical, non-functional, and fluid looking.

Shearwater Pottery

Shearwater Pottery is a small family-owned pottery in Ocean Springs, Mississippi, United States founded in 1928 by Peter Anderson (1901-1984), with the support of his parents, George Walter Anderson and Annette McConnell Anderson. From the 1920s through the present day, the Pottery has produced art pottery, utilitarian ware, figurines, decorative tiles and other ceramic objects. Two of its most important designers were Walter Inglis Anderson (1903-1965) and his brother James McConnell Anderson (1907-1998). Although Shearwater was severely damaged by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the workshop was rebuilt and restored by Jason Stebly. Pottery continues to be thrown by Peter’s son James Anderson and the latter's son Peter Wade Anderson, and decorated by Patricia Anderson Findeisen, Christopher Inglis Stebly, Adele Anderson Lawton and others. Michael Anderson heads the Shearwater Annex, and Marjorie Anderson Ashley is business manager.

Pleasant Reed House

The Pleasant Reed House was a sidehall shotgun house in Biloxi, Mississippi on the National Register of Historic Places. It was built by Pleasant Reed (1854–1932), a former slave on a Mississippi farm who moved with his family to coastal Biloxi after the American Civil War. Reed, as a freedman, worked as a laborer and carpenter and earned the money to build his own house for his rapidly growing family.

Lucy M. Lewis Acoma ceramic artist

Lucy Martin Lewis was a Native American potter from Acoma Pueblo, New Mexico. She is known for her black-on-white decorative ceramics made using traditional techniques.

Rudolf Staffel American artist

Rudolf Staffel was an American ceramic artist and arts educator.

Tchoutacabouffa River river in the United States of America

The Tchoutacabouffa River is a stream located in Harrison County, Mississippi. The river's mouth is located just north of the city of Biloxi at Biloxi Bay and south of present-day Interstate 10. Located at a latitude of 30.435 and longitude of -88.99222, it flows approximately 31 miles south from its headwaters.

Ohr-OKeefe Museum Of Art art museum in Biloxi, Mississippi

The Ohr-O'Keefe Museum Of Art is a non-profit art museum located in Biloxi, Mississippi, dedicated to the ceramics of George E. Ohr, the self-proclaimed "Mad Potter of Biloxi". The museum is named for ceramic artist George E. Ohr (1857–1918), as well as Annette O'Keefe, late wife of former Biloxi mayor Jeremiah O'Keefe, Sr., who was instrumental in donating money and raising funds for the completion of the museum campus.

Bolesławiec pottery

Bolesławiec pottery is the collective term for pottery produced in Bolesławiec, Poland. Boleslawiec Pottery is also known collectively as Polish pottery or Polish stoneware.

Hugh C. Robertson

Hugh C. Robertson, (1845–1908), was an American studio potter who is the first recognized potter to have worked with nonrepresentational ceramic decoration glazes. Robertson apprenticed at the Jersey City Potter in 1860. In 1868, he started work in his father's shop that opened in 1866 in Chelsea, Massachusetts. In 1872 the factory was incorporated into the Chelsea Keramic Art Works (CKAW). The company became known for their antique Grecian terra cotta and Pompeian bronzes. In 1877, Robertson developed the Chelsea faience, underglazed opaque earthenware, which lead the development of other American faience. There in 1884, Robertson worked on discovering the secret Chinese glaze, Sang-de-Boeuf. In 1888, he finally discovered the recipe for the glaze and produced three hundred pieces of what he dubbed, Sang de Chelses.

Newcomb Pottery American potter

Newcomb Pottery, also called Newcomb College Pottery, was a brand of American Arts & Crafts pottery produced from 1895 to 1940. The company grew out of the pottery program at H. Sophie Newcomb Memorial College, the women's college now associated with Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Pottery was a contemporary of Rookwood Pottery, the Saturday Evening Girls, North Dakota pottery, Teco and Grueby.

Charles Fergus Binns American studio potter

Charles Fergus Binns was an English-born studio potter. Binns was the first director of the New York State School of Clayworking and Ceramics, currently called the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University. He began his position in 1900 and retired in 1931. His work included authorship of several books on the history and practice of pottery. Some of his more notable students included Arthur Eugene Baggs, William Victor Bragdon, R. Guy Cowan, Maija Grotell and Elizabeth Overbeck. This has led Binns to be called "the father of American studio ceramics".

Ceramic art art objects such as figures, tiles, and tableware made from clay and other raw materials by the process of pottery

Ceramic art is art made from ceramic materials, including clay. It may take forms including art ware, tile, figurines, sculpture, and tableware. Ceramic art is one of the arts, particularly the visual arts. Of these, it is one of the plastic arts. While some ceramics are considered fine art, as pottery or sculpture, some are considered to be decorative, industrial or applied art objects. Ceramics may also be considered artefacts in archaeology. Ceramic art can be made by one person or by a group of people. In a pottery or ceramic factory, a group of people design, manufacture and decorate the art ware. Products from a pottery are sometimes referred to as "art pottery". In a one-person pottery studio, ceramists or potters produce studio pottery.

Carl Joe Williams is an American visual artist based in New Orleans.

Deichmann pottery was studio pottery produced by Kjeld and Erica Deichmann in New Brunswick, Canada from 1935 to 1963. Until 1956 their studio was located in rural Moss Glen on the Kingston Peninsula near Saint John, New Brunswick. In 1956 it was moved to Sussex, New Brunswick, where it operated until Kjeld Deichmann's death in 1963. The Deichmanns were Canada's first studio potters.

Garth Clark is an art critic, art historian, curator, gallerist, and art dealer from Pretoria, South Africa.

American art pottery

American art pottery refers to aesthetically distinctive hand-made ceramics in earthenware and stoneware from the period 1870-1950s. Ranging from tall vases to tiles, the work features original designs, simplified shapes, and experimental glazes and painting techniques. Stylistically, most of this work is affiliated with the modernizing Arts and Crafts (1880-1910), Art Nouveau (1890–1910), or Art Deco (1920s) movements. Art pottery was made by some 200 studios and small factories across the country, with especially strong centers of production in Ohio and Massachusetts. Most of the potteries were forced out of business by the economic pressures of competition from commercial mass-production companies as well as the advent of World War I followed a decade later by the Great Depression.

John Glick was an American Abstract Expressionist ceramicist born in Detroit, MI. Though open to artistic experimentation, Glick was most influenced by the styles and aesthetics of Asian pottery—an inspiration that shows in his use of decorative patterns and glaze choices. His experience working with ceramics led him to publish several articles about the craft. In addition to producing pottery, Glick began making "landscape oriented" wall panels during the latter part of his career. Known as "the people's potter," he is primarily remembered for his contributions to art and the field of ceramics.

Karl Martz was an American studio potter, ceramic artist, and teacher whose work achieved national and international recognition.

References

  1. Puente, Maria (October 21, 2005). "Storm exacts a cultural toll". USA Today. Retrieved January 21, 2010.
  2. "George E. Ohr art links". ArtCyclopedia. 2008-01-22. Retrieved 2008-05-06.
  3. "George Edgar b. Ohr (1857 - 1918)". AskArt. Retrieved May 6, 2008.
  4. "The Mad Potter of Biloxi". The Attic. Retrieved 13 July 2018.
  5. Carr Black, Patti (May 2002). "George E. Ohr: America's First Art Potter". Mississippi Historical Society. Archived from the original on June 10, 2011. Retrieved May 6, 2008.
  6. "George E. Ohr Pottery & Ceramics Information & History". Collectics Reference & Collector Education. Retrieved May 6, 2008.
  7. Watson, Bruce (February 1, 2004). "The Mad Potter of Biloxi". Smithsonian.com . Retrieved May 6, 2008.
  8. 1 2 3 Klein Albertson, Karla (September 2, 2003). "The Odyssey of George E. Ohr". Antiques and the Arts Online. Archived from the original on February 8, 2012. Retrieved May 6, 2008.
  9. Ellison, Robert A., Jr. (2006). George Ohr, Art Potter. The Apostle of Individuality. Martin Eidelberg. London: Scala. ISBN   1-85759-425-8.
  10. (The Mad Potter: George E. Ohr-Eccentric Genius by Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan)
  11. Watson, Bruce (February 2004). "The Mad Potter of Biloxi". Smithsonian Magazine. Retrieved 14 July 2018.
  12. Antiques and the Arts Editorial Content (February 11, 2003). "Record George Ohr Teapot Leads Craftsman Auction". Antiques and the Arts Online. Archived from the original on July 6, 2008. Retrieved May 6, 2008.
  13. McKee, Jesse O.; Velvelyn Blackwell Foster; Stephen Young; et al. (2005). Mississippi: The Magnolia State (PDF). Atlanta: Clairmont Press. p. 330. ISBN   1-56733-125-4.
  14. Rago, David (appraiser), Antiques Roadshow, Dallas, Texas, June 28, 2008

Further reading