Large Green Clay Vase

Large Green Clay Vase, stoneware

Frans(z) Rudolph Wildenhain was born in Leipzig, Germany June 6, 1905.  He first apprenticed as a draftsman and lithographer, then studied at the Bauhaus in Weimar where his instructors included Paul Klee, Moholy-Nagy, Gerhard Marcks and Max Krehan.  After the Bauhaus closed he attended the State School of Applied Art at Halle-Saale.  In 1929 he married Marguerite Friedlaender, and four years later they fled Germany and established a pottery studio in Putten, Holland.  Marguerite emigrated to the United States in 1940, but Frans remained in Holland, moving his studio to Amsterdam and teaching at the School for Applied Arts.  He came to America in 1947 and rejoined Marguerite.  Two years later they, along with Trude Guermonprez (weaving) and Viktor Ries (metal work), established the Pond Farm Workshop in Guerneville, California.  In 1950 Frans joined the faculty of the School for American Craftsmen at the Rochester Institute of Technology  (New York) where he taught pottery and sculpture for over twenty years.  In 1952 Frans and Marguerite were divorced.  He subsequently remarried, to Elisabeth (Lili) Brockardt, a weaver and textile artist. 

During his long career, Frans Wildenhain exhibited in over 200 shows and won numerous awards, including prizes from the International Exposition in Paris (1939), the Exhibition of Art in Los Angeles (1949), and the Brussels World's Fair (1958).  He was also the recipient of two Fairchild Awards and a Guggenheim Fellowship.  Institutions in which he exhibited include the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the San Francisco Museum of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Walker Art Center (Minneapolis), the Des Moines Art Center, and the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts, to name only a few.  Several collections include his work, among them the Stedelijk Museum (Amsterdam), the Smithsonian Institution (Washington, DC), the Art Institute of Chicago, the Portland Art Museum, the Baltimore Museum of Art, and the Indianapolis Art Association.  He also created numerous commissions, including murals for the Strasenburgh Laboratory (Rochester, NY), the National Library of Medicine (Bethesda, MD), Summit Hospital (Overlook, NY), and the Rochester Institute of Technology (NY).  He contributed ceramic designs to Art and Architecture, House Beautiful, Craft Horizons, and other publications.  He was a member of both the American Crafts Council and the World Crafts Council.  Frans Wildenhain died in 1980.

There are 59 works in the Luther College Fine Arts Collection by Frans Wildenhain.  They include 22 drawings and watercolors given in honor of Edith Huset Talle by her daughters; 21 ceramic works given by Lili Wildenhain in honor of her husband, Frans; 10 prints and drawings given by Henri Friedlaender, brother of Marguerite (Friedlaender) Wildenhain; 2 ceramic pieces and 1 large watercolor given by Dean Schwarz; and 3 small ceramic pieces created by Frans and/or Marguerite from the time they were together in Holland, donated by Brent Johnson.

Ref:  Mantle Fielding, 1986; ,Who was Who in American Art, 1999; Luther College Fine Arts Collection file notes, 2003.

Luther College Fine Arts Collection

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on September 03, 2009

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