Eugene Hecht’s George Ohr: The Greatest Art Potter on Earth is simply a big book in every sense of the term. The color illustrations are sumptuous, many and mostly full page. The book design is exceptional (look for it as a contender in CFile’s design awards in September). The scholarship is exceptional.
There is a wealth of new research between these covers and Hecht has done heavy lifting in correcting Ohr’s mangled history, separating truth from both Ohr’s penchant for exaggeration and the many, tenacious, beguiling but fictional legends that have been attached the the Mad Potter. I have to admit, I’m sad to see some of these legends debunked.
Hecht is also an academic like Lippert, a noted physics professor, but there is no sense of this in the work except for the impeccable structure, fastidious footnoting and other scholar’s tools used to good effect. He writes with color and vibrancy and sets off on his journey explaining Ohr with such enthusiasm that the reader cannot help but plunge headlong into his narrative.
Fascinatingly, without being patronizing or obvious, Hecht is able to weave subtle and occasional folk cadences in his own writing. A word here and a phrase there emerge quite naturally. This light but sophisticated country twang gives Ohr a voice throughout…