Monthly Archives: July 2010

Russel Wright retrospective

Russel Wright headshot

“—because it is an honest expression of present-day living, modern design should interest all thinking Americans.”  … Russel Wright

Blue teapot by Russel Wright

American modernist designer Russell Wright

 

Most collector enthusiasts of modernism are familiar with Russel Wright’s ubiquitous, colorful dinnerware designs. Wright is credited with being an influential designer and the one most responsible for the American shift in taste toward modern design in the mid 20 th century.  American Modern™, which  he produced in 1937 with Bauer Pottery  was his most bold statement in that effort.

With over 250 million pieces sold, American Modern™ is this country’s original entry in modern style of dinnerware, and was the largest selling for that period. Russel Wright revolutionized the American home and the way people lived there. His iconic inexpensive, mass produced dinnerware, furniture, appliances, and textiles were not only visually and technically innovative, but were also the tools to achieve his concept of “easier living,” a unique American lifestyle that was gracious yet contemporary and informal. The universal appeal of Russel Wrights pottery designs has been vindicated by the reintroduction of his American Modern™ dinnerware set.

Salmon coloured Russel Wright ceramic sugar bowl and creamer

 

Bean brown pitcher

 

Wright was preoccupied with two design concepts, both aspiring to serve the masses, for much of his career. The “American Way” was formulated in the late 1930s and spawned a product line of ceramics and furniture.The second “Easier Living” was a philosophy first published as a guidebook in 1950. It claimed that families should share chores and reduce personal possessions “to make maintenance easier,” among other things.

In the same way that Pottery Barn has influenced 1990s American taste and design sensibility, the “American Way,” peddled through pamphlets and public appearances to promote the wildly popular American Modern dinnerware, introduced homeowners to an affordable decorating esthetic during the Depression. By the time ” Easier Living “came out, Wright had become obsessed with labor saving devices and esthetic order.

Russel Wright ceramic teapots

As far a s marketing goes, Russel Wright beat Martha Stewart to the punch by 50 years. He was the first designer to successfully market his wares using his own name as a well-defined brand, and Wright rode the crest of the Modernist wave for over 20 years.

One of Russel Wrights personal achievements was the creation of Manitoga . When Wright first found this property in 1942, it had been damaged by a century of quarrying and lumbering. Over the next three decades, until his death in 1976, he carefully redesigned and re-sculpted Manitoga’s 75 acres using native plants, his training as a theater designer and sculptor, and his innovative design ideas. Though the landscape appears natural, it is actually a careful design of native trees, rocks, ferns, mosses, and wild flowers. Wright created over four miles of paths that wind over creeks, into woods, among boulders, and through ferns and mountain laurel.

This became his residence and design studio. Manitoga is the only 20th century modern homesite open to the public in New York, and one of few on the east coast. Wright considered it his most important creative effort. In 1996 it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Russel Wright creamer, contemporary design

Russel Wright creamer

 

 

Russell Wright mustard colour Carafe modernist style

Russel Wright  Carafe

 

 

 

Dinner set by Russel Wright

Russel Wright dinner set

 

 

Russel Wright Seafoam coloured bowl and plate

Seafoam bowl and plate

Abstract ceramic sculpture by Russel Wright

Russel Wright

 

 

Russel Wright Salt n Pepper shakers maroon colour

Salt and Pepper Shakers – Russel Wright

 

 

Russel Wright Cup n saucer

Cup and Saucer – Russel Wright

 

 

Russel Wright jade colour glaze ceramic platter

Russel Wright split dish

 

 

Manitoga Russsel Wright

Manitoga

 

 

Russel Wright Manitoga

Manitoga

Russel Wright dinnerware cantaloupe

Russel Wright ‘Iroquois Cantaloupe’ dinnerware.

 

 

modern-ceramic-dish-Russel-Wright

Russel Wright bowl

 

 

Russel wright Bauer free form dish

Russel Wright  for BAUER -free-form dish with mottled beige exterior and chocolate brown interior.

 

 

 

Russel Wright Ceramic candle holders

Candle Holders – Russel Wright

 

 

RUSSEL WRIGHT Long boat-shaped vessel

 Long boat shaped vessel covered in turquoise and deep plum glaze.

 

 

Russel Wright Pillow Vase

Russel Wright for Bauer – pillow vase covered in matte apricot speckled glaze.

 

 

 

Avocado green pouring jug - Russel Wright

Russel Wright jug

 

 

Two Russel Wright ceramic vessels - contemporary design

Two RUSSELL WRIGHT for BAUER free-form vases with glossy pale gray glaze.

 

 

Russel Wright  for Bauer oval vase with mottled apricot exterior and chocolate brown interior.

 

 

Russel Wright

 

 

Four vases - Russel Wright

Russel Wright vases