George Ohr never received the recognition that he felt he deserved in his lifetime (1857-1918). Prior to a fire in 1894 that burned Ohr’s pottery studio, Ohr’s work was comprised mainly of utilitarian wares such as pitchers and flowerpots in glazes of yellow, green and brown. After rebuilding his studio, the pottery he produced became masterful in bright, glorious colors and eccentric hand-thrown designs. After 1900, Ohr stopped glazing his pots and proclaimed, “God put no color in souls, and I’ll put no color on my pottery.” By 1907, Ohr, bitter and disappointed, stopped making pots. He put his entire body of work, nearly 10,000 pieces, in the attic of his sons’ auto repair shop, where it remained until 1972 when an antique dealer purchased it. Ohr died of cancer in 1918.
Some of Ohr’s best work are his two-handled vases which generally are taller than the 6” or less sizes characteristic of much of his work. These pieces have striking colors. The best of these vases have thinly constructed forms, manipulated rims and extravagant handles. Minor damage is generally overlooked. These pieces date from 1890 to 1900.
In 1895, Ohr created teapots with form, more than function, in mind. Covered with colorful glazes, Ohr viewed his teapots as another form to explore rather than something to be used for practical purposes. Manipulated handles and spouts appear on his best teapots. Teapots with applied snakes are very rare.
Ohr’s unglazed pieces were the last of his work. About 2,500 of his known work of 10,000 pieces were unglazed. Most were hand marked with his signature. The unglazed bisque was prone to damage which has little impact on value. The beauty of the bare clay and his daring manipulation of form created pots that he believed showed his most “mature” work.
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