Vally Wieselthier, Austrian (1895 - 1945)

Vally Wieselthier

Vally Wieselthier was born in Vienna in 1895. From 1914 on the artist studied at the Vienna School for Applied Arts. She initially attended its textile workshop, later the painting class of Koloman Moser and, in 1917, she switched to the architecture class of Josef Hoffmann. In 1917 she also attended the ceramics workshop headed by Michael Powolny. Josef Hoffmann who was both a teacher at the college as well as the head of the Wiener Werkstätte, spotted the talented pupil and won her over to join his organisation. Vally Wieselthier joined the newly opened ceramics workshop of the Wiener Werkstätte in 1917 and fell under the influence of its artistic director Dagobert Peche. Her work is dominated by the playfulness she displayed in the use of traditional forms and the free use of materials.

Valerie (Vally) Wieselthier was a potter and ceramic sculptor particularly well known for her humorous sculptures and Art Deco surface designs. Having studied at the Wienerkunstgewerbeschule from 1914 to 1920 under the likes of Josef Hoffmann and Kolo Moser, she designed work for the Wiener Werkstatte beginning in 1912. Her ceramic pieces were produced by the Augarten factory and Josef Bock.

The innovative expressiveness in colour and form of her ceramic objects contributed greatly to the revitalisation of the genre. From 1922 to 1927 she had her own workshop in Vienna. Her ceramic sculptures were represented at the 1925 “Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes” in Paris. In 1927 she returned to the Wiener Werkstätte to head its ceramics workshop. From 1928 on she spent longer and longer periods in New York. In 1932 Vally Wieselthier moved to New York for good.

The objects that she exhibited at the 1925 Exposition des Arts Decoratifs in Paris helped define the playful and sophisticated mood of the Art Deco era. Wieselthier settled in America in 1928 and created designs for the Contempora Group and the Sebring Pottery Company.

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