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Press Release - April 29, 2016
Artwork from personal collection of famed designer Viktor Schreckengost debuts at Heritage Auctions
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
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'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).
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, 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).
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).
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