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 Russel Wright  (1904 - 1976)

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Lived/Active: New York/Ohio      Known for: mod bird and animal sculpture, household designs

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Ad Code: 3
Russell Wright
from Auction House Records.
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Russel Wright: The Original Modfather

It's all true: Russel Wright beat Martha Stewart to the punch by 50 years.  The first designer to successfully market his wares using his own name as a well-defined brand, Wright rode the crest of the Modernist wave for over 20 years.  And he did it all -- furniture, accessories, dishes, glassware, table linens, art pottery, and much, much more.  There were many famous and fabulous industrial designers working successfully in the 1930s, 40s and 50s, but nobody brought modern sensibilities to the masses to the extent Wright did.  His permeation of the American consciousness at such an early time is truly extraordinary.  

Finally, Wright, who died in 1976, has recently started receiving the attention he deserves. The comprehensive exhibit "Russel Wright: Creating American Lifestyle" ran at the highly respected and influential Cooper-Hewitt design museum in NYC in 2001 and 2002 to wide acclaim.  Here in our own hometown Dallas, Wright's work was quite prominently featured at the Dallas Museum of Art's landmark "From Tabletop to TV Tray" 20th Century dinnerware exhibit, which traveled to several other major cities in 2002.  Examples of Wright's work are now on permanent display at major museums across the nation.

And until recently, you could purchase brand-new Russel Wright dinnerware at major department stores. Oneida, with the permission and cooperation of Wright's daughter Ann, manufactured a "re-issue" of some of Wright's most popular shapes in new glaze treatments. A hybrid of the old American Modern and Casual lines, the new line was discontinued in 2004, so collectors are now scrambling to snap up the remaining stock at discount stores (including Oneida's own Home stores located in outlet malls all over the USA). 


This biography from the Archives of AskART:
A modernist sculptor and designer based in New York City, Russell Wright studied at the Cincinnati Academy of Art with Frank Duveneck, and at the Art Students League in New York with Kenneth Hayes Miller.  From 1922 to 1924, he studied at Princeton University and in 1923, took classes at the Columbia University.

He served as founder and President of the American Society of Industrial Designers and was also a founding member of the Harlem School of Arts.  Among his recognitions were the Tiffany Award for Sculpture, two Trail Blazer awards and Good Design Awards from the Museum of Modern Art in 1950 and 1953.

His company was Russel Wright Associates, and his design commissions included electrical appliances, wood and basket products, and dinnerware and glassware, textiles, floor coverings, wallpaper and pianos.  His designs were the "hallmark of middle-class consumerism in the 1940s and 50s." 

Wright also participated in theatre, serving in productions as stage director and manager, and he worked with the National Park Service as Director of their Summer in the Parks Programs.

Peter Hastings Falk, Editor, Who Was Who in American Art

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