Red Wing Retro
RED WING RETRO: Extraordinary Pottery, Everyday Life
At the Minnesota History Center
July 1, 2006 – April 1, 2007
An exhibit offering an overview of more than 100 years of Red Wing Pottery is at the Minnesota History Center, offering an unusual opportunity to see the dizzying variety of ceramics the company produced shown in the context of their actual uses.
Whether you’re a fan of the homespun crocks and jugs Red Wing began making about 1878, prefer their popular dinnerware of the postwar period, or enjoy their decorative and art ceramics, “Red Wing Retro” is a fun and fascinating snapshot of a signature Minnesota company that once was the largest pottery company in the U.S.
Marcia Anderson, curator of the exhibit, finds three aspects of “Red Wing Retro” particularly interesting:
"First, the exhibit highlights the incredible variety of ceramics produced by the Red Wing Potteries. It also illustrates the pottery’s role in the lives of everyday Minnesotans, from canning and preserving, to serving and eating food, to purely decorative purposes. But perhaps most important, it highlights a company that is not only an essential part of Minnesota’s heritage and has been a player in the state for more than 100 years, but is also notable for its innovation in the face of a changing marketplace, and continues in business today."
Indeed, while Red Wing Pottery has long been a favorite of collectors (the Red Wing Collector’s Society has more than 6000 members) it has seen a resurgence of interest as younger people rediscover classic “mid-century modern” design. Patterns such as Town and Country by Eva Zeisel are ageless, with their clean lines and appealing shapes, while those by Charles Murphy are notable for their cheerful and distinctive hand painted motifs that reflect the spirit of the 1940s and ’50s. For instance, his Bob White design – the best-selling pattern in the company’s history – was featured as a prop in a Playboy centerfold in February 1956.
“Red Wing Retro” features hundreds of pieces from the Society’s growing collection and private collections. It also includes a children’s play area with dishes mimicking some of Red Wing’s dinnerware patterns in a kitchen setting to encourage kids to use their imaginations.
Additional funding for this exhibit was provided by the Red Wing Pottery Company.