With this great strength he has extraordinary delicacy, and the two make him a master potter. The clay seems to be a living, breathing thing under his manipulation.

Susan S. Frackelton

George E. Ohr 1857–1918

Born to Alsatian and German immigrants in Biloxi, Mississippi in 1857, George Ohr learned the art of blacksmithing from his father, was apprenticed first to a file cutter, and then to a tinker, worked in chandlery and became a sailor, and otherwise knocked about until 1879, when his childhood friend Joseph Meyer invited him to New Orleans to learn the art of pottery. Meyer was a traditional potter, of the type common throughout the country prior to the industrial revolution and well into the 20th century in much of the rural south.

Ohr absorbed Meyer’s folk aesthetic and ultimately transformed it into something totally original. His vessels are technical tours de force, unexcelled in the thinness of their bodies and the control with which they are shaped—and misshaped; he threw perfect vessels and then folded and twisted them into unique and original forms.

Bombastic self-promotion was a habit with Ohr, one which alienated him from his more restrained contemporaries in the art pottery and Arts and Crafts movements. It took the form of signs, broadsides, and public demonstrations, such as the Mardi Gras float in which he appeared as an old man bearing a huge cross. He loved word games, and variously referred to himself as the Biloxi M.D. and P.M. (mud dauber and pot maker), The Unequalled Variety Potter, Crank, Etc. and most memorably, The Mad Potter of Biloxi. He used his own name in numerous variations, calling himself the Pot-Ohr, Biloxies Ohrmer Khayam and Greatest Ohr-nament and his shop, the Pot-Ohr-E. Many of his creations were inscribed with his memorable quotations, such as Potter sed-2-clay/B ware/and it was/a thing of the future.

Apart from novelties and functional wares, he sold very little of his work, in part because he doubted that potential buyers could value it as much as he. Over the years he accumulated nearly ten thousand "mud babies", which he boxed up around 1909 and put in the attic of his studio before turning it over to his sons, who converted the space into an automobile repair shop.

Alone in his aesthetic, understood and appreciated by too few of his contemporaries, he was quickly forgotten after he gave up making pottery around 1908. It was his consistent hope that his collection be purchased in its entirety by the Smithsonian as a gift to the nation. Prior to the rediscovery of this trove by an antique dealer in 1969, Ohr was known only from a few turn-of-the-century articles and a handful of works in various collections. The rediscovery of his work coincided with a renewed interest in the art pottery movement and necessitated a re-evaluation of turn-of-the century American art history. Most recently, The Museum of Modern Art furthered this reconsideration of his genius, and the importance of his work in the history of art and craft, by displaying six of his works in a room displaying modern masterpieces by Seurat, Gauguin, and Van Gogh.

Upcoming Lots George E. Ohr

GEORGE E. OHR, Vase | ragoarts.com

100

George E. Ohr

Vase

estimate: $7,500–10,000
GEORGE E. OHR, Large vase | ragoarts.com

101

George E. Ohr

Large vase

estimate: $10,000–15,000
GEORGE E. OHR, Pitcher | ragoarts.com

102

George E. Ohr

Pitcher

estimate: $6,000–8,000
GEORGE E. OHR, Large vase | ragoarts.com

103

George E. Ohr

Large vase

estimate: $6,000–9,000
GEORGE E. OHR, Exceptional and Large coupe | ragoarts.com

104

George E. Ohr

Exceptional and Large coupe

estimate: $25,000–35,000
GEORGE E. OHR, Exceptional and Large coupe | ragoarts.com

105

George E. Ohr

Exceptional and Large coupe

estimate: $20,000–30,000
GEORGE E. OHR, Vase | ragoarts.com

106

George E. Ohr

Vase

estimate: $3,500–4,500
GEORGE E. OHR, Vase | ragoarts.com

107

George E. Ohr

Vase

estimate: $8,000–12,000
GEORGE E. OHR, Vase | ragoarts.com

108

George E. Ohr

Vase

estimate: $5,500–7,500
GEORGE E. OHR, Coupe | ragoarts.com

109

George E. Ohr

Coupe

estimate: $5,000–7,000
GEORGE E. OHR, Vase | ragoarts.com

110

George E. Ohr

Vase

estimate: $6,000–9,000
GEORGE E. OHR, Tall vase | ragoarts.com

111

George E. Ohr

Tall vase

estimate: $10,000–15,000
GEORGE E. OHR, Tall vase with cut-outs | ragoarts.com

112

George E. Ohr

Tall vase with cut-outs

estimate: $10,000–15,000
GEORGE E. OHR, Hat novelty | ragoarts.com

113

George E. Ohr

Hat novelty

estimate: $1,500–2,000
GEORGE E. OHR, Vase | ragoarts.com

114

George E. Ohr

Vase

estimate: $2,000–3,000
GEORGE E. OHR, Vase | ragoarts.com

115

George E. Ohr

Vase

estimate: $1,500–2,000
GEORGE E. OHR, Pitcher | ragoarts.com

116

George E. Ohr

Pitcher

estimate: $1,500–2,000
GEORGE E. OHR, Vase | ragoarts.com

117

George E. Ohr

Vase

estimate: $2,500–3,500
GEORGE E. OHR, Vase | ragoarts.com

118

George E. Ohr

Vase

estimate: $1,000–1,500
GEORGE E. OHR, Puzzle mug | ragoarts.com

119

George E. Ohr

Puzzle mug

estimate: $1,000–1,500
GEORGE E. OHR, Teapot | ragoarts.com

172

George E. Ohr

Teapot

estimate: $5,000–7,000
GEORGE E. OHR, Vase | ragoarts.com

173

George E. Ohr

Vase

estimate: $10,000–15,000
GEORGE E. OHR, Exceptional and Large pitcher | ragoarts.com

174

George E. Ohr

Exceptional and Large pitcher

estimate: $20,000–30,000
GEORGE E. OHR, Exceptional pitcher | ragoarts.com

175

George E. Ohr

Exceptional pitcher

estimate: $8,000–12,000
GEORGE E. OHR, Rare and Large totemic vase | ragoarts.com

176

George E. Ohr

Rare and Large totemic vase

estimate: $25,000–35,000
GEORGE E. OHR, Vase | ragoarts.com

177

George E. Ohr

Vase

estimate: $2,500–3,500
GEORGE E. OHR, Top hat novelty | ragoarts.com

178

George E. Ohr

Top hat novelty

estimate: $3,000–4,000
GEORGE E. OHR, Vase | ragoarts.com

179

George E. Ohr

Vase

estimate: $6,000–9,000
GEORGE E. OHR, Vase | ragoarts.com

180

George E. Ohr

Vase

estimate: $5,000–7,000
GEORGE E. OHR, Vase | ragoarts.com

181

George E. Ohr

Vase

estimate: $4,000–6,000
GEORGE E. OHR, Vase | ragoarts.com

182

George E. Ohr

Vase

estimate: $6,000–9,000
GEORGE E. OHR, Vase | ragoarts.com

183

George E. Ohr

Vase

estimate: $4,500–6,500
GEORGE E. OHR, Vase | ragoarts.com

184

George E. Ohr

Vase

estimate: $9,000–12,000
GEORGE E. OHR, Novelty bank | ragoarts.com

185

George E. Ohr

Novelty bank

estimate: $2,500–3,500
GEORGE E. OHR, Novelty inkwell | ragoarts.com

186

George E. Ohr

Novelty inkwell

estimate: $1,200–1,500
GEORGE E. OHR, Collection of six brothel tokens | ragoarts.com

187

George E. Ohr

Collection of six brothel tokens

estimate: $2,500–3,500
GEORGE E. OHR, Log Cabin novelty inkwell | ragoarts.com

188

George E. Ohr

Log Cabin novelty inkwell

estimate: $500–700
GEORGE E. OHR, Pear novelty bank | ragoarts.com

189

George E. Ohr

Pear novelty bank

estimate: $500–700

Auction Results George E. Ohr

GEORGE E. OHR, exceptional and very large vessel | ragoarts.com

George E. Ohr

exceptional and very large vessel

estimate: $20,000–30,000
result: $100,000
GEORGE E. OHR, Exceptional and Large vase | ragoarts.com

George E. Ohr

Exceptional and Large vase

estimate: $25,000–35,000
result: $81,250
GEORGE E. OHR, snake vase | ragoarts.com

George E. Ohr

snake vase

estimate: $15,000–20,000
result: $78,000
GEORGE E. OHR, Large vase | ragoarts.com

George E. Ohr

Large vase

estimate: $10,000–15,000
result: $62,500
GEORGE E. OHR, Exceptional tall vase | ragoarts.com

George E. Ohr

Exceptional tall vase

estimate: $37,500–42,500
result: $56,250
GEORGE E. OHR, Exceptional vase | ragoarts.com

George E. Ohr

Exceptional vase

estimate: $35,000–40,000
result: $50,000
GEORGE E. OHR, Fine large double-sided vessel | ragoarts.com

George E. Ohr

Fine large double-sided vessel

estimate: $6,000–9,000
result: $46,875
GEORGE E. OHR, Tall vase | ragoarts.com

George E. Ohr

Tall vase

estimate: $10,000–15,000
result: $40,000
GEORGE E. OHR, exceptional large vase | ragoarts.com

George E. Ohr

exceptional large vase

estimate: $25,000–35,000
result: $40,000
GEORGE E. OHR, Exceptional and Tall vase | ragoarts.com

George E. Ohr

Exceptional and Tall vase

estimate: $35,000–40,000
result: $37,500
GEORGE E. OHR, Large two-handled vase | ragoarts.com

George E. Ohr

Large two-handled vase

estimate: $30,000–40,000
result: $37,500
GEORGE E. OHR, Vase | ragoarts.com

George E. Ohr

Vase

estimate: $9,000–12,000
result: $37,500
GEORGE E. OHR, Exceptional large coupe | ragoarts.com

George E. Ohr

Exceptional large coupe

estimate: $15,000–20,000
result: $37,500
GEORGE E. OHR, Large pitcher | ragoarts.com

George E. Ohr

Large pitcher

estimate: $10,000–15,000
result: $35,000
GEORGE E. OHR, Vase | ragoarts.com

George E. Ohr

Vase

estimate: $10,000–15,000
result: $33,750
GEORGE E. OHR, Two-handled baluster vase | ragoarts.com

George E. Ohr

Two-handled baluster vase

estimate: $28,000–32,000
result: $32,500
GEORGE E. OHR, Exceptional vase | ragoarts.com

George E. Ohr

Exceptional vase

estimate: $25,000–35,000
result: $30,000
GEORGE E. OHR, pitcher | ragoarts.com

George E. Ohr

pitcher

estimate: $12,000–16,000
result: $30,000
GEORGE E. OHR, Large coupe | ragoarts.com

George E. Ohr

Large coupe

estimate: $15,000–20,000
result: $27,500
GEORGE E. OHR, Tall vase | ragoarts.com

George E. Ohr

Tall vase

estimate: $8,000–10,000
result: $27,500
GEORGE E. OHR, large two-sided vase | ragoarts.com

George E. Ohr

large two-sided vase

estimate: $7,000–9,000
result: $25,000
GEORGE E. OHR, vase | ragoarts.com

George E. Ohr

vase

estimate: $6,000–9,000
result: $25,000
GEORGE E. OHR, vase | ragoarts.com

George E. Ohr

vase

estimate: $8,000–10,000
result: $25,000
GEORGE E. OHR, vase | ragoarts.com

George E. Ohr

vase

estimate: $5,000–7,500
result: $25,000