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Luce Foundation Center for American Art

Craft: Clay: Apocalypse '42

Viktor Schreckengost

(born Sebring, OH 1906 -- died Tallahassee, FL 2008)

"Always get back to the function of the object. The aesthetics, the marketing, and whatever you want to worry about about all comes in on top of that. Let's take the cost out of it so that everybody can afford good design." The artist, quoted in Makovsky, "Industrial Designer Viktor Schreckengost Dead at 101," Metropolis Magazine, February 4, 2008

A prolific industrial designer, artist, and teacher, Viktor Schreckengost's creations have touched on nearly every aspect of American life. The Ohio native designed everything, from children's toys and pedal cars to trucks, bicycles, furniture, and ceramic dinnerware. Companies such as American Limoges, Harris-Seybold, and Sears carried his work, bringing beautiful design to everyday objects. His work caught the eye of Eleanor Roosevelt, who in the 1930s commissioned several "Jazz" bowls, one of which went with her and Franklin to the White House in 1933. Schreckengost originally planned to be a cartoonist, but changed his mind after seeing an exhibition of ceramics at the Cleveland Museum of Art. In 1930 he joined the faculty of the Cleveland Institute of Art, where he founded the school's design department and taught for seventy-eight years. In 1958, in recognition of his work, Schreckengost was awarded a gold medal from the American Institute of Architects, and in 2006 he captured the National Medal of Arts, the country's highest cultural honor. His work is in the permanent collections of major museums, including the Art Institute of Chicago and the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum.