art for everyone. every monday morning.

Otto + Vivika Heino
Americans: Otto (1915-2009), Vivika (1910-1995)

Bowl Vivika Heino • Porcelain 2-3/4” x 5-7/8” x 5-7/8”
Vessel Otto Heino • Porcelain 4-1/2” x 7” x 7”

After 47 years of marriage, Vivika Heino died at the age of 85 leaving one mystery unsolved: the recipe for a revolutionary new yellow glaze. Her husband, Otto, finished the experiments, perfected the recipe and dedicated his find to Vivika’ s memory. This is the Heino’ s story in a nutshell. Vivika and Otto fit together like the last two pieces in a complex puzzle. Their mutual bond was a love of well-crafted, innovative ceramics, blending clay and glaze.

Otto, seeking to unwind after over 40 WWII combat air missions, studied art with one of Europe’s most avant garde ceramicists, igniting the first leg of the love triangle that would define his life. Returning to New York, he continued his ceramics studies and fell in love with his teacher, Vivika. She became the second leg of the triangle. From then forward, every piece of art created by either was signed Otto + Vivika. And, clay ceramics makes three.

“What you give away you have forever. What you keep to yourself, you lose.”

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Vivika’s famous quote defined Otto + Vivika. Collaboration was life. Their Ojai California studio, The Pottery, was at the center of a California arts and crafts community. Together they pioneered new formulas for glazes and clays bringing a distinctive richness and luster to their work. All discoveries were shared with other ceramicists, improving everyone’s work and cementing the Heino’s reputation throughout the world.  

Throughout their lives together, Vivika and Otto worked together to handle both the practical and creative sides of life. While one taught, the other created new works. Finally they settled into a shared life that mirrored what each liked best. Vivika was the teacher, and Otto became the studio potter.

As with everything else in their lives, their work bridged seemingly insurmountable divides. Their creative style tended toward traditional shapes and clean lines as they worked to combine the sensibilities of modern art with the functionality of traditional ceramics.

Vivika + Otto valued craftsmanship above all. The perfection of shape and glaze was their life-long pursuit. The results of that pursuit are now on display at the Canton Museum of Art.

Both from Canton Museum of Art Permanent Collection
Gift of Don Pilcher in memory of Ava Potter Pilcher: Bowl 2010.18, Vessel 2010.19


4 Ways to Sound Smart When Viewing at The Canton Museum of Art

“The Heino’s were considered innovators in development of glazes and clays that pushed the art of ceramics forward.”

“For almost 4 decades, everything produced by either Vivika or Otto was signed‘ Otto + Vivika’. They considered everything they did a collaboration.”

“Otto fell in love with ceramics when visiting the studios of Bernard Leach in England while Heino was stationed there during WWII.”

“Vivika was Otto’s ceramics teacher in New York when he returned from the war. According to Otto, ‘she invited me to see her studio.’ ”


Otto + Vivika Timeline. Scroll over images to see timeline.