Biographical / Historical
Frans Wildenhain (1905-1980) was a German-born ceramicist, sculptor, and educator active in Rochester, New York.
Wildenhain was born in Leipzig, Germany to a family of craftsmen. He began his study of art with drawing and design. For formal training, he enrolled at the Bauhaus where he studied in the pottery studio with Gerhard Marcks, Max Krehan, and his future wife, Marguerite Friedlaender Wildenhain. The Wildenhains moved to Burg Giebichenstein, Halle, Germany to teach at the State School of Applied Art.
In 1933, due to Marguerite's Jewish ancestry, they moved to the Netherlands and set up a studio called Het Kruikje (Little Jug). Marguerite later emigrated to the United States however Frans was unable to follow. He moved to Amsterdam but was drafted into the German Army which he deserted. He followed Marguerite to the United States in 1947 after a seven year separation.
Upon his arrival in the United States, Frans drove from New York City to Geurneville, California where Marguerite had settled at an artist colony, Pond Farm. Their marriage did not last and Frans Wildenhain accepted a position at the School for American Craftsmen at the Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, New York. He stayed in that position for over twenty years. He co-founded a cooperative gallery called Shop One, in Rochester, New York.
In 1952, he married Marjorie McIlroy and after her death, married Elisabeth (Lili) Brockkardt.
Franz Wildenhain was a Guggenheim Fellow and exhibited his works around Europe and the United States. His pottery is included in the collections of the Rochester Institute of Technology, Smithsonian Institution, Luther College, and Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, Netherlands.