“I am making pottery for art sake, God sake, the future generation… for my own satisfaction, but when I’m gone…my work will be prized, honored, and cherished.” - George E. Ohr

"Shapes come to potter as verses come to the poet. Clay follows the fingers and the fingers follow the mind." - George E. Ohr

"It is my put and horn also, and im going to do some more shoving, pushing, hoisting, kicking, braying scratching, etc. 2 reach the goal on the true high art pottery biz." - George E. Ohr

"I must be myself, and I want every vase of mine
to be itself." - George E. Ohr

“Each piece of pottery I make is a baby. Did you ever hear of a mother so inhuman that she would cast off her deformed child?” - George E. Ohr

Various types and styles of inkwells were created by Ohr to sell to the tourist trade. Novelty items such as inkwells sold to tourists, along with functional pieces for the local community, were the means by which Ohr supported his family. The cougar inkwell was made from a two-part mold and applied to a base.

According to Eugene Hecht in "After the Fire," 1994 (13), "Pot-Ohr-E-George was no ordinary tradesman who in the smoking rubble might contemplate alternatives; there were no alternatives. He had to rebuild and create again. Not just stock shelves with souvenirs, or even to make a living, but to create a body of work that would properly represent him, that would stand for him before the world and future generations."

The Lighthouse Pot is an example of the thinness of Ohr's pottery, as well as his spectacular glazes and proficiency in the manipulation of the clay medium. The pot is incised with flowers, leaves, butterflies, and the Biloxi Lighthouse on one side.

Novelty and tourist trade items, such as the Beauvoir Inkwell, were an important aspect of Ohr's oeuvre. He created inkwells to sell to the Biloxi tourist trade.

"A curious and inventive mind is necessary to produce new and curious things." - George E. Ohr

"All pottery, when considering the glazes, owes its beauty to accident." - George E. Ohr

"I do not worship the dollar as much as I do my pots." - George E. Ohr

“The twisted, crinkled clomerations in my Art Pottery stand alone on earth – I cannot duplicate such myself.” - George E. Ohr

"Because I’m built that way—both 2 do it and 2 tell it, and all the conceit, vanity, etc. u find in this is yours to knock down, drag out, clean up and burn the debris." - George E. Ohr

"I brood over [each pot] with the same
tenderness a mortal child awakens in
its parent." - George E. Ohr

The hallmark of Ohr's art pottery was the combination of vibrant glaze colors with distinctive forms that often exaggerated the traditional styles.

“The human does not live or ever will live or ever B born & hope to duplicate my Twisted shapes…make ‘em that way on purpose, and could not do it ‘over’ myself.” - George E. Ohr

After the fire Ohr began to experiment with wild new forms that were far more experimental than the pottery typical to the day. These pieces created during the years 1895-1905 are considered some of George Ohr's finest work.

"The Potter said un2 Clay 'Be. Ware'
and it was…” - George E. Ohr

"—when I found the potter’s wheel I felt
it all over like a wild duck in water." - George E. Ohr

"I know I’m quant & very queer/So is my work, so I appear/Some call me Crank, some genius 2/Some don’t know, some others do." - George E. Ohr

"Get a Biloxi Souvenir before the potter
dies or gets a reputation." - George E. Ohr

"Real—head—heart—hand—and Soul 'ART.'" - George E. Ohr

"This Pot is here, and I am the Potter Who was." - George E. Ohr

"Only one piece of my pottery to every three hundred thousand creatures in the U.S.A." - George E. Ohr

“I make disfigured pottery – couldn’t and wouldn’t if I could make it any other way.” - George E. Ohr

“…it is as easy to pass judgment on my productions from four pieces as it would be to take four lines from Shakespeare and guess the rest." - George E. Ohr

"I am the apostle of individuality, the brother of the human race, but I must be myself, and I want every vase of mine to be itself." - George E. Ohr

“All [my] Pottery, when considering the glazes, owes its beauty to accident” - George E. Ohr

George Ohr's "Monumental Urn," the only one of its type in existence, was created in 1892 and survived the Biloxi fire of 1894. Originally the urn was almost six feet tall before its lid was lost. It was constructed in three sections. It also included elaborate handles, which wore down over the years. A fragment of an urn handle is in the collection of the Ohr-O'Keefe Museum of Art.

"I claim nothing in color or quality, only originality in design, a shape creator and maker." - George E. Ohr

Ohr created puzzle "trick" mugs, inkwells, brothel tokens and other playful pieces for sale to the Biloxi tourists and during his travels to the world's fairs. Novelty items reached a broader audience and the sales from these works helped to support his family.

"Colors or quality -- counts nothing –
in my creations. God put no color or
quality in SOULS." - George E. Ohr

In the early 1900s, Ohr stopped glazing pottery, leaving it in the bisque form. This last period represents his most abstract, sculptural ceramic objects. He tried his hand at new forms of artistic expression by exploring pure bisque “vessel sculptures,” extremely thin, with new twists, shapes and rhythms. Some vessels from this period are perfectly symmetrical, while others seem to move to their own rhythm.

“A visitor asked me for my autograph and since then, 1898, my creations are marked like a check. The previous 19 years mark is like any old newspaper type.” - George E. Ohr

Credits: Story

Compiled by Curator Barbara Johnson Ross and her assistant Lilyana Gandour from the collection and archives of the Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art.

Works Cited:

Clark, Garth, Ellison, Robert A. Jr., Hecht, Eugene. "The Mad Potter of Biloxi: The Art and Life of George E. Ohr." New York: Abbeville Press Publishers, 1989.

Ellison, Robert with Martin Edelburg. "George Ohr, Art Potter: The Apostle of Individuality." London: Scala Publishers, 2006.

Hecht, Eugene. "After the Fire, George Ohr: An American Genius." Lambertville, NJ: Arts and Crafts Quarterly Press, 1994.

Hecht, Eugene. "George Ohr: The Greatest Art Potter on Earth." New York: Skira Rizzoli Publications, 2013.

Credits: All media
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