We arrived in Biloxi with the expectation of finding an antebellum flavor to the architecture and the culture of the city. Driving along Beach Boulevard we had that expectation jolted to its core when we viewed the buildings that make up the campus of the Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art.
“But Ohr’s ground-breaking work wasn’t widely appreciated in his time. In fact, the Mad Potter might have drifted into obscurity had he not packed up crates of his creations in 1910 like an artistic time capsule. An antiques dealer purchased the trove of Ohr’s preserved pots in the early 1970s, a half century after the potter’s death, and they quickly became an art world phenomenon.
“To modern eyes, Ohr was a visionary. He seems to have been obsessed with stretching clay to its physical limits. In the making of cups, pots and other vessels, he squeezed the spinning clay walls to seashell thinness. The three pairs of images below show examples of this thinness.
It was a magical coincidence that Ohr’s pots were rediscovered in an era when it was fashionable for avant-garde artists to test the limits and encourage the self-determination of art-making materials much like Ohr had. It’s a further coincidence that it was the same era that saw Canadian-born Gehry begin his climb toward architectural superstardom—an ascent that was fueled by his Ohr-like eagerness to work beyond the aesthetic vocabulary of the late modern era.
“The combination of Frank Gehry and George Ohr is a perfect match. They both pushed the limits of what's expected in their fields," Meacham said. "All good art creates discussion."
The extent of Ohr’s push will be shown in tomorrow’s entry.
The quoted information is from Doug MacCash, The Times-Picayune, November 5, 2010 (nola.com/arts/ index.ssf/2010/11/the_ohr-okeefe_museum_designed)