Skip to main content
Go to accessibility options

Search Press Release Archive

Press Release - April 29, 2016

Artwork from personal collection of famed designer Viktor Schreckengost debuts at Heritage Auctions

Viktor Schreckengost: The Season sculpture

The Seasons (Summer, Fall, Winter and Spring), 1938, (est. $150,000) included in master designer's personal trove of modernist art and design offered May 13 in Dallas

Viktor Schreckengost: Pedal Pursuit Plane (Child's Pedal Car), 1941
DALLAS — A rich selection of sculpture, ceramics, paintings, drawings and furniture personally owned by the great American industrial designer Viktor Schreckengost – whose work personified 20th-century modernism and inspired generations of Mid-Century Modern artists – will debut May 13 at Heritage Auctions.

As the first public auction ever dedicated to Viktor's art, and drawn exclusively from his estate, Heritage's Viktor Schreckengost Auction offers a near-comprehensive cross-section of Viktor's achievement in all media ranging from his student work in Cleveland and Vienna, to his Art Deco period work contemporary with his iconic Jazz Bowl created for Eleanor Roosevelt, to his startlingly modern American dinnerware designs and bicycles, to his magnificent ceramic figures and vessels and award-winning paintings. Alongside his acclaimed figurative Deco sculpture such as The Seasons (Summer, Fall, Winter and Spring), 1938, (est. $150,000), one finds original concept sketches, theater puppets, gorgeous bicycles, and even work by his talented brothers, Paul and Don, who were also dinnerware designers.

Viktor Schreckengost: A Twenty-Piece Tricorne and Streamline Partial Service, 1933

"Viktor Schreckengost's talents knew no bounds. His gifts for designing familiar items we use every day, so that they were not only more beautiful but also more functional, gave him a lifetime of joy. For products ranging from pedal cars to automobiles to dinnerware," said DR. Marianne Berardi, Senior Fine Arts Expert at Heritage Auctions, "Viktor developed streamlined designs with a modernist flair that forever changed the face of American products. Viktor also loved the idea that great design didn't have to be reserved for expensive items. Embracing this populist idea, he was way, way ahead of his time. He imparted his ideas over the course of a 75-year teaching tenure to hundreds of students at the Cleveland Institute of Art, where he founded the first Industrial Design department in the United States."

Unlike the other giants of industrial design who were his near-contemporaries, Schreckengost maintained a steady production of fine artwork in addition to his life in the commercial design world. His stunning pottery and sculptures—both on a small scale and on a monumental architectural scale—earned him critical acclaim for most of his life, even while he was heavily engaged in product design. His sculpture The Seasons (Summer, Fall, Winter and Spring), 1938, was so well received it was responsible for the creation of The Four Elements, another suite of four clay heads, that surmounted a towering, ten-foot-high display and dazzled millions at the 1939 New York World's Fair. Birth of Boogie Woogie, 1942, pays homage to the artist's life-long love affair with jazz music. The sculpture is a fusion of jazz's African origins and its unique transformation of musical culture in America (est. $25,000-$35,000).

Viktor Schreckengost: Jeddu
In Mrs. Cassidy, 1949, Viktor named his prize-winning sculpture of a kangaroo mother with baby in pouch after the fictional cowboy, Hopalong Cassidy (est. $20,000-$30,000), and was produced shortly after he returned from service during World War II, when he had no way to work in clay—his most beloved medium. And with bronze sculpture Jeddu, a lifetime cast from the artist's original 1931 plaster, the artist blends his intense attraction to Africa's art and its people (est. $15,000-$25,000) with his love of highly-stylized Deco design he had absorbed through post-graduate study in Vienna.

Also included in the auction are several significant examples of the artist's slab form vessels, something he devised after World War II in an effort to move beyond the idea that bowls and vases had to be thrown on a wheel or built through coils. Through creations such as Avail, 1949 (est. $7,000-$10,000), Schreckengost literally carved the slabs of clay with knives, the way one digs earth from the ground. His radical techniques looked forward to the work of figures such as Peter Voulkos. Cellular, 1949 (est. $10,000-$15,000), a hewn and glazed ceramic vessel, is an important example of the artist's never-ending experimentation with form and medium: Schreckengost directly mixed the glaze into the clay. The artist explained: "This led to variations in textural qualities of clay, and meant that forms could be simplified by suggesting detail through change in texture."

Viktor Schreckengost: Original Presentation Models for the Cleveland Zoo Bird Tower Panels (Four Works), 1950
A lifelong resident of Cleveland, Ohio, Viktor was often called on to create distinctive additions to civic projects and a set of four Original Presentation Models for the Cleveland Zoo Bird Tower, 1950, were used to fashion monumental 5 x 8-foot glazed terracotta wall reliefs (est. $10,000-$15,000).

Viktor, as well as his younger brothers Paul and Don, earned national reputations among American families for their innovative and space-age designs of common household dinnerware, toys, even pedal cars. A rare Tom & Jerry Punch Bowl Set designed by Paul in 1938 and produced by the Gem Clay Forming Company, is a daring, streamlined examples of 1930s American art deco ware now highly sought after by collectors and museums alike ($25,000-$35,000). The example in the auction is one of about 20 sets ever produced.

Viktor's iconic Pedal Pursuit Plane (Child's Pedal Car), 1941, was put into mass production by Murray Ohio Manufacturing Company, for whom Viktor worked for more than three decades as its most influential innovator. The auction marks the first time the artist's own 1941 first-issue model has ever been made available to collectors (est. $3,000-$5,000).

Viktor Schreckengost: Abstract Still Life, 1936
Another piece close to the artist's heart is Abstract Still Life, 1936, a slip-cast platter from the American Limoges pottery in Sebring, Ohio where Viktor and his brothers Don and Paul were all working at the time he decorated the piece very early in his career (est. $3,000-$5,000).

Additional highlights include, but are not limited to:

· Old Town, 1992, a vivid watercolor records a panoramic view of red tile roofs and green spires which caught Viktor's eye in the Old Town of Tallinn, the capital of Estonia (est. $10,000-$15,000).

· Morning Light, 1934, an oil on canvas resembling Nadine Averill, the artist's first wife (est. $4,000-$6,000).

· Red Astro Flight Bicycle, 1965, Murray Ohio Manufacturing Company (est. $800-$1,200).

Heritage membership

Join Now - It's Free

  1. Past Auction Values (prices, photos, full descriptions, etc.)
  2. Bid online
  3. Free Collector newsletter
  4. Want List with instant e-mail notifications
  5. Reduced auction commissions when you resell your
Consign now
  • Cash Advances
  • More Bidders
  • Trusted Experts
  • Over 200,000 Satisfied Consignors Since 1976

Learn about consigning with us

I wasn’t expecting it, so was excited when she asked to have a piece to sell at Auction. We quickly chose a piece, discussed prices, packing, shipping and photography: it was all so quick and easy.
Mary L.,
Los Angeles, CA
View More Testimonials receives more traffic than any other auction house website. (Source: