Work Title: Viktor Schreckengost: American Da Vinci
Work Author(s): Henry Adams
Color illustrations, 144 pages, Softcover $34.95
Reviewer: Beth Hemke Shapiro
American artist Viktor Schreckengost turns 100 years old this year and has been lauded as "an American Leonardo da Vinci" due to his versatility as both a fine artist and an industrial designer. From the Art Deco Jazz Bowl that Schreckengost originally created for Eleanor Roosevelt in 1930 to the various dinnerware patterns that he designed for different American manufacturers from the 1930s to the 1950s, the artist displayed extraordinary breadth of talent, as the author's descriptions demonstrate.
Adams is Professor of American Art at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. He formerly held curatorial and directorial positions at several art museums, including the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh and the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City. Art News recently named Adams one of the top experts in the American art field, and he has published more than 200 titles on American art.
Jazz Bowl, a parabolic ceramic punch bowl depicting an evening on the town in New York, is one of the artist's most famous pieces, but Schreckengost made exceptional use of many artistic media. He explored ceramic forms such as plates, vases, and sculpture, and created huge---twenty-five by twelve feet---mastodon and mammoth reliefs for the Cleveland Zoo. Along with sculpting in clay, Schreckengost formed busts to be cast in metals, such as Jeddu and Mangbettu Child, both based on photographs from Africa. He was prolific in two-dimensional works, and experimented with pen-and-ink, batik, oils, and watercolors. He even delved into costume and set design.