Viktor Schreckengost Mangbetu Award

 

Viktor Schreckengost – 2000 Cleveland Museum of Art Retrospective Exhibition.

 

Viktor Schreckengost Mangbetu Award Overview

Viktor Schreckengost (1906-2008) was a prolific inventor, designer, artist and teacher whose creations have touched on nearly every aspect of American life. Ranging from ceramics, sculpture, and painting to furniture, toys, and bicycles, Viktor mastered many crafts and because of this remarkable spectrum, he is described as the Father of Industrial Design and America’s own Leonardo da Vinci. It is estimated that every living adult in the United States has used objects designed by Viktor Schreckengost or one of his students.

In 2008, the Attleboro Arts Museum celebrated the work and impact of Viktor in the Viktor Schreckengost Legacy Exhibition (March 21 – May 16, 2008). The Museum’s Ottmar Gallery was alive with seminal Schreckengost pieces and work that Viktor found particularly dear. Surrounding Viktor’s art was the prominent work of his accomplished students. Viktor had the rich ability to create extraordinary art and design – as well as successfully educate several generations of talented young students at the Cleveland Institute of Art (CIA).

Viktor taught for 70 years at the CIA until he was 93 years old and influenced many students who went on to create an array of consumer and industrial products, from children’s pedal car toys to the Corvette, both of which were included in the Viktor Schreckengost Legacy Exhibition. One of Schreckengost’s former students and life-long friend, Chuck Tramontana was instrumental in bringing the exhibition to Attleboro, MA.

Sadly, Viktor passed away on January 26, 2008 at age 101, just weeks before the opening of this exhibition. We so wished to have shared the joy and tribute of this exhibition with Viktor, but were thrilled to host his wife, Mrs. Gene Schreckengost at the opening reception.

Viktor’s wife, Gene Schreckengost, comments, “It is hard for me to comprehend that Vik is no longer with us physically, but I feel his presence in all his own work and that of those he taught. Make no mistake – Vik truly lived through his students, whether they were fifth year designers working on a complex problem or neighborhood children following him through our woods and gardens learning about flowers, trees and squirrels. He shared with us unstintingly from his wellspring of talent, integrity, dignity, humility and love. There is no more fitting a tribute then showcasing his creations alongside those of some of the heirs of his creativity.”

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Shortly after the close of the Viktor Schreckengost Legacy Exhibition, the Attleboro Arts Museum became the fortunate recipient of Viktor Schreckengost’s 1933 original Mangbetu Child; Bronze Casting #2 (pictured above) thanks to a generous gift from Gene Schreckengost. Museum visitors and friends treasure this exceptional gift. It serves as a strong symbol of Viktor’s talent and the great impression of the Viktor Schreckengost Legacy Exhibition at the Attleboro Arts Museum.

Mangbetu Child lead to the creation of the Viktor Schreckengost Mangbetu Award, an annual recognition granted to an outstanding Attleboro Arts Museum art student. We are working to keep Viktor’s legacy alive by saluting the remarkable arts achievement, commitment, and visual creativity of our student artists with this award. Since the Mangbetu Award’s launch in 2009, recipients have ranged in age, the youngest only 8 years old at the time of their exhibition (see below for chronological list).

In 2019, the Attleboro Arts Museum expanded the award program to honor teams of exhibiting students. Each year’s group exhibit spotlights one of Viktor’s areas of interest or an art media that he enjoyed working in.  For example the 2019 exhibition focused on Viktor’s ceramic sculptures of animals created between 1937 – 1955. He had unique approaches when rendering creatures – such as a focus on line, simplification of subject and “finding” the animal within formless blobs of clay. 

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Viktor Schreckengost Mangbetu Award Recipients

  • 2009: Victoria Tarallo
  • 2010: Arlena Phillips
  • 2011: Cassie Chee
  • 2012: Marina Spenciner
  • 2013: Ryan Brown
  • 2014: The Monotype Group (Susan Clarke, Celeste Houle, Carol Sacks, Jean Thompson, Andrea Warner, Mary Wojciechowski)
  • 2015: Mary Musante
  • 2016: Vaidehi Jawale
  • 2017: Mary Moore
  • 2018: Riley Collins
  • 2019: The Viktor Schreckengost Mangbetu Art Student Group Exhibition – Animal Inspirations (Participating Students: Maggie Campbell, Cate Childs, Patricia Ferrara, Angelina Lavigne, Rachel Leaney, Hailie Leonard, Michael Perry, Ana-Maria Santos, Marco B. Welt)

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About Viktor Schreckengost

Born and raised in Sebring, Ohio, Schreckengost was one of six children. His father worked at a ceramics factory from which he brought home material for his children to model. By age 26, Viktor was an established artist and working as a ceramics instructor at the Cleveland School of Arts (which became the Cleveland Institute of Art). In 1933, he became director of the school’s (and the nation’s first) industrial design department. His students continue to command attention in the world of utilitarian designs, with special significance in automobile design, such as the Mustang, Corvette and Hummer.

Throughout his long career, Schreckengost directed design projects ranging from the modern truck engine, home and patio furnishings, to children’s pedal toys, bicycles, riding lawn mowers and flashlights. Murray Bicycle Company remained among his major clients. For Murray, he designed many children’s transportation products such as pedal cars, tricycles and banana seat bikes—well into the 1960s.

Compact & Collectible: An Exhibition of Vintage Pedal Cars (April 9 – May 10, 2014) at the Attleboro Arts Museum brought together more than 70 children’s pedal cars, trucks and vehicles dating as far back as 1930 including multiple pedal car designs by Viktor. In recent years, pedal cars have enjoyed increasing interest among collectors who prize them as art objects, as well as nostalgic toys. Some collectors spend large sums to completely restore the cars, while others prefer a played-with appearance. The chief function of a pedal car is still to provide stimulating playtime for kids (of all ages).

In the fine arts, his ceramics craftsmanship burst onto the scene with the internationally acclaimed masterwork, The Jazz Bowl – which many consider the greatest ceramic piece ever made in the United States. The first Jazz Bowl was commissioned around 1930 by Eleanor Roosevelt when her husband was governor of New York. She allegedly requested a design that reflected the exciting nightlife of New York City.  The Jazz Bowl tells the story of a night on the town. Starting in Times Square at 3:30 in the morning, we pass by high-rise buildings, visit the Cotton Club and Radio City Music Hall, and finally relax in a cocktail lounge.

His sculptures adorn zoos and other public places, while his vibrant thematic watercolors captured his exploration of many styles.

Perhaps lesser known, is his Tour de Force technological ingenuity during World War II, when he led various research projects and eventually became commanding officer of Naval Research.

In 2000-2001 Viktor was honored with a retrospective exhibition with catalogue at the Cleveland Museum of Art called Viktor Schreckengost and 20th Century American Design. Soon after, the Viktor Schreckengost Foundation was established in Cleveland, OH.

Viktor Schreckengost received the 2006 National Medal of Arts, presented by President and Mrs. Laura Bush, November 9, 2006.

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For more information on the Viktor Schreckengost Mangbetu Award telephone: 508-222-2644 x15 or email: office@attleboroartsmuseum.org

 

 

 

 

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