Rago Auctions in Lambertville, N.J. is offering a wide array of ceramics from the Arts and Crafts Movement to contemporary art in a cluster of five auctions: The Cook Collection (October 16, 2015), Early 20th Century Decorative Arts Mid-Mod Auction (October 17, 2015), Modern Design Auction and Modern Ceramics and Glass Auction (October 18, 2015). We were particularly struck by two major sculptures by Waylande Gregory, both of which were shown on World Fairs, one in 1939 and the other in 1964.
The above is a study for the large, multi-part sculpture entitled “Exports Benefit the American Worker and the American Farmer” that Gregory designed for the 1939 World’s Fair. It was displayed in the General Motors Building.
Located on the Bowling Green Plaza by the newly renovated subway entrance and in front of the Contemporary Arts Building, Waylande Gregory’s “Fountain of the Atom” was hard to miss or forget. It was Gregory’s most famous work at the 1939 New York World’s Fair, and probably the most memorable work of his career. The Fountain was constructed of a steel frame and glass bricks. It consisted of a bluish green pool 65 feet in diameter.
Above it were two concentric circular tiers, or ‘terraces’ as Gregory called them, the first wider than the second. On the first terrace were eight “Electrons” composed of four male and four female terra cotta figures, each about 48 inches high, These represented the valence electrons of the atom. Above them, on the narrower terrace were four “ton sized” “Elements,” the female “Earth” (now in the collection of the Philadelphia Museum) and “Fire,” and the male “Air” and “Water” (now in the collection of the Cranbrook Museum). Streams of water constantly tumbled down the glass blocks, and a colorful flame burned at the top.