We asked custodians of leading twentieth-century and contemporary design collections to discuss one object that they feel is particularly noteworthy.
Here is a gallery of their choices.
Viktor Shreckengost’s undulating design for a porcelain tea service for California manufacturer Royal Crest neatly embodies the zeitgeist for biomorphic forms that arose in the 1940s and persisted through the following decade. While suggestive of earlier tableware forms created by figures such as Russel Wright and Eva Zeisel, this rare prototype equally recalls Schreckengost’s hand-built ceramics and sculpture and, in the energetic, ribbon-like handles and finials, the motifs from earlier Austrian design that informed his work. The “pinched” depressions in the side of each piece suggest both a convenient place to grasp the vessel and the lingering impression of the hand of some unseen maker. Though projecting an aesthetic of craft through its relaxed organic shapes, the intention for the service, ultimately unrealized, was for mass-production. Unlike his masterwork of the ornamentally decorative, the “Jazz” bowl of the 1930s, Schreckengost’s tea service for Royal Crest relies instead on its restless yet elegantly refined forms to stand as one of his most compelling and vibrant designs.
KEVIN W. TUCKER
Margot B. Perot Curator of Decorative Arts and Design,
Dallas Museum of Art