Ohr, George Edgar

Ohr, George Edgar,

1857–1918, American ceramist, often considered the first art potter in the United States, b. Biloxi, Miss. He apprenticed in New Orleans, traveled to potteries in 16 states to observe and learn, then returned to Biloxi. The self-styled "Mad Potter of Biloxi" cultivated an eccentric image and created eccentric and innovative ceramics, producing more than 10,000 pots during his career. Working on a wheel and then twisting, crumpling, squashing, and otherwise manipulating the clay he created thin-walled vases, pots, bowls, cups, pitchers, and other vessels in new, inventive, and often organic forms, frequently glazing them in a unique palette of vivid, sometimes splattered or mottled colors. Generally unappreciated during his life, Ohr's ceramics are now recognized as masterpieces and avidly collected. The Ohr-O'Keefe Museum of Art, Biloxi, contains an outstanding collection of his works.


See biographies by G. Clark et al. (1989), E. Hecht (2013), and J. Greenberg and S. Jordan (2013); studies by P. C. Black, ed. (1978), E. Hecht (1994), and E. J. Lippert (2013).

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Ohr, George Edgar

(1857–1918) potter; born in Biloxi, Miss. An eccentric original known as the "mad potter of Biloxi," he set up his own workshop in 1883 and when it burned in 1894, he replaced it with a landmark pagoda-like structure. Far ahead of his time with his twisted, ruffled pots with sinuous handles and with his fondness for visual puns, he stored away his major works in 1900. In 1972 this trove was rediscovered, leading to a new appreciation of his work.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.