Mid-Century Style and Studio Pottery

Read "Back to the Future: Counter-Culture Craft in the 1950's" by Sarah Archer in Hand/Eye Magazine.

This installation, which will open on Thursday, January 7th and run through February 10th, is curated by Sarah Archer in collaboration with Rago Arts (New Jersey), ReGeneration Furniture (NYC) and Astro-Turf Antiques (Brooklyn, NY).

Ceramics: Peter Voulkos, Brother Thomas, Edwin and Mary Scheier, Henry Varnum Poor, Gertrude and Otto Natzler, Otto Heino, Lucie Rie, Beatrice Wood, Bruno LaVerdiere, Karen Karnes, Val Cushing, Anna Siok and Bernard Leach.

Furniture: George Nakashima, Harvey Probber, Jens Risom, Milo Baughman, Vladimir Kagan, Eero Saarinen, and William Katavolos collection for Laverne

Textiles: Jan and Marianne Yoors, Alexander Girard for Herman Miller, Lenore Tawney and Vera Neumann (Storefront window)

: Laurel, Tommi Parzinger and Paul McCobb

In the 1950s and early 1960s, trends in home furnishings in the United States reflected a complex national mood high hopes and deep anxiety. At once optimistic about economic and technological progress, Americans were also chastened by the pervasive anxiety of the Cold War and the prospect of military conflict with the Soviet Union. It was not unlike the earlier part of this decade: an unprecedented economic boom coupled with unprecedented fear of terrorism. One way in which these impulses were manifested was in the trend for combining the sleek design of manufactured goods with more rustic, pastoral handmade craft objects.

According to Sarah Archer, curator, "[t]his period in American history was a pivot point in design where tastemakers, designers and consumers were both looking back and looking forward--seeking comfort in nostalgia, and longing for something new. The design world reveled in an attraction to new technology and streamlining, while the crafts signaled a longing for something more rustic and uncomplicated, perhaps a hipper kind of Americana and coziness than the more mainstream Colonial Revival style of hooked rugs and windsor chairs that predominated at the time."

It was during this period in GHP's own history that Rose Slivka, then editor of Craft Horizons Magazine (now American Craft Magazine) introduced director Jane Hartsook to the Montana-born potter Peter Voulkos who would teach numerous workshops here in the early 1960s. From that point on, both in Greenwich House's studios and in others across the US, American studio pottery would begin to encompass sculptural and expressive impulses like never before. GHP's location in the heart of Greenwich Village, a mecca for creativity and visual expression of all kinds, made it fertile ground for experimentation and risk-taking in ceramics.

A panel discussion organized by GHP with Pat Kirkham (Professor, Bard Graduate Center), Catherine Whalen (Assistant Professor, Bard Graduate Center) and Sarah Lichtman (Assistant Professor, Parsons - The New School for Design) hosted at the Museum of Arts and Design on January 21st at 6:30pm will investigate connections between studio craft and both elite and mass-market design during this period.


This exhibit would not have been possible without the help of some very enthusiastic people who gave so generously of their time, knowledge and collections: Val Guariglia and Chris Miele of Regeneration Furniture, Marianne and Kore Yoors, Sarah Lichtman and Rachel Kueny of Astro-Turf Antiques, Elizabeth Essner of Rago Arts, Charles Freehof, Anna Siok, Leonard Davenport, Mark Williamson, James Graham & Sons, Katherine Blaney-Miller, John Blaney, Anne Ferril, Gibson Guitars, and last but not least, GH Board Member Alison Berke.

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