Art/ Collection/ Art Object

"American Modern" Dinnerware

Designer:
Russel Wright (American, Lebanon, Ohio 1904–1976 New York)
Manufacturer:
Steubenville Pottery Company (Steubenville, Ohio)
Date:
1937
Medium:
Glazed earthenware
Dimensions:
a: H. 10-5/8, W. 8-1/2, D. 6-5/8 in. b-c: H. 4-7/8, W. 10, D. 6-3/4 in. d-e: H. 6-3/4, W. 8-1/4, D. 6 in. f: H. 2-1/2, W. 9, D. 6-1/2 in. g: H. 1, W. 10-7/8, D. 6-1/4 in. h: H. 1-1/4, W. 13-1/4, D. 3-5/8 in. i-j: (each) H. 2-1/8, Diam. 2-1/8 in.
Classification:
Ceramics-Pottery
Credit Line:
John C. Waddell Collection, Gift of John C. Waddell, 2002
Accession Number:
2002.585.17a–j
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 912
The biomorphic forms and softly vibrant color palette of Wright's American Modern service, made of sturdy and inexpensive earthenware, made it one of the most popular ceramic services ever created. The highly sculptural forms of some the pieces in this service, including the teardrop-shaped pitcher with elongated spout, were unlike any other products on the market. Wright promoted the service in novel ways, including offering a starter set of twelve pieces, to which consumers could add over time as their budget and lifestyle dictated. American Modern also came in six interchangeable colors, increasing consumer flexibility in assembling their services. As the best-selling ceramic service ever, Wright's dinnerware proved to be an especially successful example of the Good Design movement, which sought to make well-designed, modern goods available to consumers at every price point.
Inscription: Incised marks on bottoms: Russel Wright [in script]/MFG BY/ STEUBENVILLE/USA.
(a,b,g,h have full marks; d lacks USA; c,e,f,i,j are unmarked)
John C. Waddell, New York (by 2000–2002; his gift to MMA)

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "American Modern, 1925–1940: Design for a New Age," May 16, 2000–January 7, extended to February 4, 2001, unnumbered cat. (p. 158; lent by the John C. Waddell Collection, Promised Gift of John C. Waddell).

Newport Beach, Calif. Orange County Museum of Art. "American Modern, 1925–1940: Design for a New Age," May 25–August 19, 2001, unnumbered cat.

Flint, Mich. Flint Institute of Arts. "American Modern, 1925–1940: Design for a New Age," September 14–December 16, 2001, unnumbered cat.

Philadelphia. Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. "American Modern, 1925–1940: Design for a New Age," January 11–April 7, 2002, unnumbered cat.

Charlotte, N. C. Mint Museum of Craft and Design. "American Modern, 1925–1940: Design for a New Age," May 3–July 28, 2002, unnumbered cat.

Tulsa, Okla. Philbrook Museum of Art. "American Modern, 1925–1940: Design for a New Age," August 23–November 17, 2002, unnumbered cat.

William J. Hennessey. Russel Wright, American Designer. Exh. cat., Gallery Association of New York State. Cambridge, Mass., 1983, pp. 37–46, 91, pls. 18, 20, ill. front cover (color) (unknown collection).

Judy Rudoe. Decorative Arts 1850–1950: A Catalogue of the British Museum Collection. London, 1991, p. 126, nos. 319–25, colorpl. 16 (British Museum collection), ill. p. 301 (detail of marks on base of plate).

Martin Eidelberg in Design 1935–1965: What Modern Was. Selections from the Liliane and David M. Stewart Collection. Ed. Martin Eidelberg. Exh. cat., Musée des Arts Décoratifs de Montréal. New York, 1991, pp. 36–37, ill. (bw and color) (Stewart collection).

J. Stewart Johnson. American Modern, 1925–1940: Design for a New Age. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2000, p. 176, ill. p. 158.

Lindsay Stamm Shapiro in Russel Wright: Creating an American Lifestyle. Exh. cat., Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, Smithsonian Institution. New York, 2001, pp. 31–35, ill. (color) pp. 30, 79, 81 (not MMA collection).

Robert Schonfeld in Russel Wright: Creating an American Lifestyle. Exh. cat., Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, Smithsonian Institution. New York, 2001, pp. 147–60, ill. (advertisements for American Modern dinnerware).



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