An American Success Story: Harris G. Strong

Harris G. Strong, American (1920-2006), Attachments

Harris G. Strong was born in Waukesha, Wisconsin. Always a hard worker, Harris owned his first business, a bicycle shop, when he was 14, he would spend the rest of his life innovating and running his own businesses.

His aunt, Henrietta (Brownie) Strong, was his mentor. She owned and ran a successful greeting card business and offered to pay for Strong’s college education when his father would not.

“She paid the tuition, and she gave me a weekly allowance,” Strong said. “That was a tremendous help to me. She was a great help all my life.”

However, Strong struggled with the idea of leading an artist’s life. “The only thing worse than an unemployed artist,” Strong quipped, “is an unemployed poet, which was my second choice.”

After starting a company called the Potters of Wall Street, he and his wife, Rosyln, founded Harris G. Strong, Inc., in the Bronx, New York, in 1950. “It was a weird building in the back of a German sausage-making store,” Strong recalled. “Every time they smoked sausages, the whole place filled with smoke.” Strong’s pieces were a commercial success and the company quickly grew to 39 employees.

In 1970 Strong built a factory in Trenton, but a fire destroyed all the glaze formulas Harry had developed over the previous 20 years. This setback led to the decision to expand his product line to include printmaking, engravings, paintings, photography, woodcuts and collage.

Demand for his decorative art kept growing. At its height, his business had showrooms in New York, Chicago and Tokyo, as well as distribution centres in Canada and the Caribbean and representation in the Middle East. Strong traveled often and some of the moldings he designed were manufactured in Belgium, Holland and Germany. It was truly an international company.

The piece in our current auction is a meticulously cut and assembled collage. Although the piece is undated, it likely would have been from the the post-fire 70’s era when Strong was expanding his line to include printmaking and collage.

Lot 30 – Harris G. Strong, American (1920-2006), Attachments


February 21, 2018

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