THE NAME Schreckengost, which is German for "frightening guest" (apparently suggested by a Viking invasion), is not easily said nor remembered. That may be one of the reasons (if not a good one) for the almost total neglect of Victor Schreckengost in histories of American design, although the products he designed are both familiar and widely admired. As documented by this book, which is the first major account of his life, he assuredly deserves as much recognition as other industrial designers of the same period, such as Raymond Loewy, Norman Bel Geddes, Russell Wright, and Walter Dorwin Teague. It was he who founded the industrial design program at the Cleveland Institute of Art in 1933. As children, many people knew (and loved!) Schreckengost's famous child-sized vehicles from the 1940s and 50s, including streamlined pedal cars, tricyles, toy tractors, little red wagons, and bicycles, especially the Murray Mercury, and his Spaceliner and J.C. Higgins bikes for Sears. But he also designed ceramics, stage sets, architectural sculpture, streetlights, lawn mowers, baby strollers, chairs, flashlights, fans, printing presses (including a 16-color offset press), trucks, and dinnerware sets. But the single piece that is reproduced most often is an Art Deco-style ceramic bowl, titled Jazz Bowl, commissioned by Eleanor Roosevelt in the early 1930s. This book was produced as the catalog for an exhibition in 2000 of the many accomplishments of Schreckengost, who had just turned 94.  



Victor Schreckengost and 20th-Century Design by Henry Adams. Cleveland OH: Cleveland Museum of Art, 2001.ISBN 094041762X.

more info

Ballast Reviews

Reviews from Ballast Quarterly Review

of books, films and other published materials

All reviews are copyright © by Roy R. Behrens