Friday, October 05, 2012

Arty Farty Friday ~ Hedi Schoop's Californian Ceramics from the 1940s

Another acquisition from last month's trip - this one not found in an antique store but in a thrift store run by a hospice organisation in Pratt, Kansas where we stopped for a short leg-stretching break.
The ceramic figure was sitting on a table by the cash desk along with a few other "specials offers". A notice informed prospective buyers that it is a ceramic "Phantasy Dancer" from the 1940s by Hedi Schoop. A photograph of a comparable piece available on e-bay, and its price there was attached. The Dancer, now offered at half the original asking price in the thrift store seemed a real bargain, particularly as the delicate piece had attracted my eye anyway, before knowing anything about it. I bought it. At home I searched for information about Hedi Schoop.

Sculptor, ceramist, painter, entrepreneuse, her proper name was Hedwig Schoop, born on April 3 1906 in Switzerland into a prominent Zurich family. She died in California in 1995. Following details come from

She studied sculpture, architecture, painting, and fashion design at several European art institutions. With her sister, Trudi Schoop, she is also remembered for her work in European dance and cabaret.
Fleeing the rising Nazi power, she and her husband, renowned composer and torch song writer, Friedrich Hollander, left Germany for Hollywood in 1933. In her new environment, she became an innovator of mid-century California pottery design, and became perhaps the most commercially successful California ceramics designer of the postwar period, and certainly the most ubiquitous. If a Schoop figure proved popular with consumers, an entire line of accompanying décor objects, such as planters, bowls, ashtrays, and candy dishes, and lamps would be built around it. At its busiest in the late 1940s, the studio produced over 30,000 giftware items per year, and employed over fifty workers. The factory was destroyed by fire in 1958, and shortly after that Schoop retired from ceramic design, focusing instead on painting.

In 1943 Hedi Schoop married Ernst Verebes, talented in his own right as a famous actor in European film, and with whom she had a son, Anthony Verebes. The son survives, and is a prominent Los Angeles photographer.

Hedi Schoop designed almost every piece in her line herself, including vases, plates, bowls, ashtrays. Her figurines of men and women are said to be the most popular with collectors.

Many examples of Hedi Schoop ceramics can be seen via Google Image. Some, such as the two shown below, are clearly related in style to my piece, but some others wouldn't have attracted my attention nearly as much as this Dancer did....she was probably waiting there that day, just for me!


Wisewebwoman said...

Thanks for the intro to this amazing artist, T.

I do love the piece you acquired. It flows.


Vanilla Rose said...

I like the final of the 3 figures the best.

Twilight said...

WWW and VR ~~~
It was the unusual delicacy and quality glaze on the piece which attracted me more than the subject matter really - it's not my usual taste. I'll keep a look out for any others of this style from now on, but doubt I'd be able to buy them as cheaply as I did this one.