March 13 - June 30, 1997
An extensive collection of 20th-century porcelain dinnerware -- highlights of the 400-piece George Wesp Collection -- are featured in the exhibition Wall-to-Wall Wesp which is part of the permanent collection of the International Museum of Ceramic Art at Alfred. The Wesp Collection was given to Alfred University in 1964 by Alma B. Wesp, wife of the late porcelain designer and importer of fine dinnerware, to be exhibited by the New York State College of Ceramics.
Born in Bavarian Germany at the turn of the century, George Wesp followed family example and began his apprenticeship at Rosenthal Ceramics at the young age of 14. He stayed with this company for thirty years, becoming an American representative and moving to New York when he was 22. Keen at interpreting the American market and meeting its demands, while shaping future trends through his own sketches and designs, Wesp found success in America and acquired citizenship. Organizing his own company in the 1940s, Wesp represented some sixteen companies from Belgium, Czechoslovakia, France, Italy, and Latvia, as well as Germany. His own designs were produced in Tettau, Germany, where his aggressive requests for product rebuilt the post-Wold War II economy there.
Among the work featured in the Wesp Collection are Rosenthal-designed "Pompadour" dinnerware, created in response to Rococo-inspired popular French designs, ceasing the need to import French wares into Germany; Latvian exports of underpainted images of fruit; dainty Czecholslovak tea cups; and a large selection of "Royal Tettau" luxury porcelain -- a high demand product created in response to popular Danish "Royal Copenhagen." Collecting began in the 1920s. Wesp collected what he imported, and the collection serves as a testimony to his design skills as history serves testimony to his influence.