As Viktor Schreckengost approaches his 101st birthday, his first century of art and design will be the subject of a special event in his honor, an illustrated lecture by distinguished art historian, author, and professor Dr. Henry Adams. The event will take place on Thursday, November 9, at 5 pm in the Aitken Auditorium at the Cleveland Institute of Art, 11141 East Boulevard, Cleveland, Ohio. Viktor is the subject of Viktor Schreckengost: American Da Vinci, a new book written by Dr. Adams and published this month by Tide-mark Press.
At once inventor and artist, as well as sculptor, potter, painter, set and costume designer, pioneer of radar and aerial mapping, and general "Jack-of-all trades," Viktor Schreckengost has sometimes been termed "an American Da Vinci" because of the variety and originality of his work.
Viktor's signature piece is a punch bowl known as The Jazz Bowl that he designed in 1930 for Eleanor Roosevelt. This is often considered the single greatest masterwork of American Art Deco. Esteemed as the most versatile American ceramic artist of the 20th-century, Viktor has produced work ranging from vessels and animal figures, to monumental sculptures for the Cleveland Zoo and Lakewood high school, which weigh over thirty tons and are probably the largest ceramic sculptures ever made. The remarkably slab forms he created in the late 1940s are generally regarded as a break-through in American ceramics, the first pieces that freed clay from the tyranny of the potter's wheel and treated vessels as a purely sculptural art form.
Beginning in the 1920s, Viktor was also a founding figure of American industrial design: the creator of the first modern American dinnerware, the first cab-over-engine truck, the first blind-welded bicycles, the first pedal cars stamped out in a single piece, the first golf cart lawn mower, and of hundreds of other designs for everything from lawn furniture, flashlights and artificial limbs to frying pans and coffins.
Viktor was also the founder of the Cleveland Institute of Art's renowned school of industrial design, the first of its kind in the country, and today one of America's three leading schools of industrial design. Over seventy years of teaching he has trained over 1,000 students whose innovative products, such as the Ford Mustang and the Crest Spinbrush, have added many billions of dollars to the American economy. There is probably not an adult alive in the United States today who has not handled products designed by either Viktor or his students.
Dr. Henry Adams is Professor of American Art at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland and the author of more than 200 publications exploring American art, including books, museum catalogs, and articles. Formerly he served as curator of Fine Arts at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh, and curator of American Art at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City and the Cleveland Museum of Art. Dr. Adams has been singled out by Art News as one of the foremost experts in the field of American art.
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