American Modern shape platter with Matchstick pattern decoration
Steubenville Pottery ( American, 1879 - 1959 )
Russel Wright ( American, 1904 - 1976 )
- designed 1937
During the late 1930s, Russel Wright combined the notion of mix-and-match solid colors with innovative organic shapes that foreshadowed post-World War II design. In 1937, Wright and his wife, Mary, designed American Modern, a line that included early examples of coupe plates and hollowware pieces with biomorphic forms. In fact, the Wrights' creation was so radical that two years elapsed before a pottery agreed to produce it. In 1939, the then-bankrupt Steubenville Pottery Company began production of the line in four colors developed by students of Donald Schreckengost at Alfred University--Chartreuse Curry, Granite Grey, Seafoam Green, and Bean Brown--and eventually offered seven additional colors.
American Modern was one of the best-selling tableware lines of all time. In production between 1939 and 1959, it grossed an estimated $150 million and prompted Steubenville Pottery Company to expand twice to maintain pace with demand.
Charles L. Venable, China and Glass in America 1880-1980 (Dallas, TX: Dallas Museum of Art: New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 2000), 349, 425.
Read an essay on Russel Wright’s American Modern dinnerware line.