Cover for MOHR: Pottery, Politics, Art: George Ohr and the Brothers Kirkpatrick. Click for larger image

Pottery, Politics, Art

George Ohr and the Brothers Kirkpatrick

Understanding the passions fueling three of America’s most provocative potters

Pottery, Politics, Art uses the medium of clay to explore the nature of spectacle, bodies, and boundaries. The book analyzes the sexual and social obsessions of three of America's most intense potters, artists who used the liminal potentials of clay to explore the horrors and delights of our animal selves.

The book revives from undeserved obscurity the far-southern Illinois potting brothers Cornwall and Wallace Kirkpatrick (1814-90, 1828-96) and examines the significance of the haunting, witty, and grotesque wares of the brothers' Anna Pottery (1859-96). The book then traces the Kirkpatricks' decisive influence on a central figure in the American Arts and Crafts movement, George Ohr (1857-1918), known as "the Mad Potter of Biloxi" and arguably America's greatest potter. Finally, the book gives a new reading to Ohr's contorted yet lyrical and ecstatic works. Abundant full-color and black-and-white photographs illustrate this remarkable art, with images of many Kirkpatrick and Ohr works being published here for the first time.

On the Kirkpatrick snake jugs: "Critics have long considered the jugs as propaganda for the temperance movement, but . . . Mohr postulates convincingly that the jugs were parodies and that the brothers were politically progressive. Mohr also argues that the Kirkpatricks' influence on George Ohr's art is significantly greater than previously thought."--Antique Trader

Pottery, Politics, Art provides not just new interpretations but new categories for inquiry. In engaging, witty, debate-generating prose, Mohr takes studies in the decorative arts to a new level of critical sophistication."--Nancy Owen, author of Rookwood and the Industry of Art

“An important, well-researched, and well-reasoned study of an important and generally neglected subject.”--John Vanco, director of the Erie Art Museum and curator of A Peculiar Vision: The Work of George Ohr

Richard D. Mohr is a professor of philosophy and classics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and has written on art and architecture for Architectural Record, Art Issues, the Journal of the American Art Pottery Association, and Style 1900.

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