Eva Zeisel revolutionized ceramic design by bringing her own vision of modernism into American middle-class homes with dinnerware created for Hallcraft, Sears and Red Wing. The prolific designer is the subject of an exhibition by the Erie Museum of Art that will begin a three-stop national tour in September.
The Shape of Life by Eva Zeisel will be at the Tyler Museum of Art, Tyler, Texas, from Sept. 12 through Dec. 9, 2008; the Asheville Art Museum, Asheville, N.C., Jan. 30 through May 17, 2009; and the Hoyt Institute of Fine Arts, New Castle, Pa., October through December, 2009.
Legendary for her industrial designs as well as teaching and writing on design, the 101-year-old Zeisel has created an impressive body of work over her long career. The museum’s exhibition presents Zeisel’s many design ideas and changes of style since the late 1920s, as well as narrating her eventful life. The exhibition not only includes her well-know ceramic work, but also examples of glass, metal and furniture design.
Zeisel was born Eva Stricker in Budapest in 1906. She attended the Royal Academy of Fine Arts and served an apprenticeship as a potter. After working in her native Hungary and German, she moved to Russia, working in the former Imperial Porcelain Factory in Leningrad. She was eventually appointed artistic director for the porcelain and glass industries for the Soviet Union.
Caught up in a Stalinist purge in 1936, she spent 16 months in prison. She was expelled from the Soviet Union to Austria on the eve of the Nazi takeover. She fled to England, where she married Hans Zeisel, who had been waiting for her. The couple immigrated to the United States in 1938 and settled in New York. In 1939 she created the department of ceramic arts industrial design at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, where she taught until 1952.
For information about the Zeisel’s life and designs, go to the Web site of the Eva Zeisel forum, formerly the Eva Zeisel Collectors Club: www.evazeisel.org.
Editor’s note: A feature on the ceramic art of Eva Zeisel will appear in the November 2008 issue of complimentary online publication Style Century Magazine. Sign up for new-issue e-mail alerts at www.stylecenturymagazine.com.
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