The Ogre Marionette

Description (Brief)
The ogre is one of five marionettes in the cast of "The Three Wishes" produced by puppeteer, Donald Cordry, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, 1930-1934. . Elaborately hand carved and painted the ogre has a green and brown painted face with vaguely Asiatic features, with a distorted head , one eye is disfigured and the other eye is a coiled snake where the missing eye should be.. He wears a Chinese-style full-length green satin robe with a snake embroidered on the chest and white painted shoes.. He is operated with an airplane holder and six strings.
Donald Cordry (1907-1978) was a well known and highly respected American artist, craftsmen and puppeteer of the 1920s and 30s. He was gifted with a great decorative sense and his craftsmanship was extraordinary.
Born in Minnesota, Cordry attended the Minneapolis School of Art from 1924-1929 and after graduation he went to work for the Board of Education. While his main job was to lecture and teach classes, Cordry took used the opportunity to create and perform his own marionette show with both hand puppets and marionettes.
From late 1930 to early 1931 Cordry joined the Rufus Rose Company, owned by Rupert and Margo Rose that played the school and college circuit on the East coast.
In the summer of 1931 he traveled to Mexico where he developed a life long interest and dedication to the arts and landscape of Mexico. An avid collector of ethnographic material for over 40 years, Cordry amassed a large collection of indigenous Mexican arts and crafts which he meticulously documented and researched. His passion also included Native American cultures, and in the mid 1930s he worked at the Heye Museum of Indian Art in New York City where he cataloged and researched objects for the museum.
(The Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History owns a large collection of Mexican masks donated by the Cordry family in the early 1980s.)
After returning to Minneapolis in late 1931, Cordry started creating his own puppets. He formed his own company and performed shows until 1934. The Dolly Sisters and the Three Wishes were popular with young and old audiences alike.
In June of 1934, Cordry moved to New York and worked with Tony Sarg, a well known and established puppeteer in his own right, and taught classes at Sarg's Summer School. Cordry made a number of puppets for Sarg and toured with his company from 1934-1936.
By 1937 poor health forced him to give up puppetry and he moved to Mexico. He did however, continue his field research on indigenous peoples and later on published two books - Mexican Indian Costumes (1968) and Mexican Masks (c1980).
"The Three Wishes" was Cordry's final production before he moved to Mexico with his wife. The puppets and sets from this production were shipped in crates to Mexico and remained there almost fifty years. In 1982, his widow Dorothy Mann Cordry donated this collections to the Smithsonian which included not only the marionettes, but props made to scale and a fully operational puppet stage.
Location
Currently not on view
Date made
1930-1934
user
Cordry, Donald
maker
Cordry, Donald
Associated Place
United States: New York, New York
Physical Description
wood (overall material)
fabric (overall material)
Measurements
overall: 22 in x 7 in; 55.88 cm x 17.78 cm
ID Number
1982.0238.067
accession number
1982.0238
catalog number
1982.0238.067
subject
Puppetry
See more items in
Culture and the Arts: Entertainment
Puppets
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center

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