Friday, May 6, 2011
Famous Artists You've Never Heard of Series: Eva Zeisel
Artists You've Never Heard of Series
Eva Zeisel is remarkable at 104 years old. To make it to that age is remarkable enough in itself but Zeisel continues to create and sell ceramic art as she did at 94 years old and at 84 years old. And decades before that.
Eva Striker was born in early in the 20th century, 1906, in Budapest. Her family was wealthy, educated and intellectual. Her Mother Laura was the first woman to graduate from the University of Budapest. Eva, long attracted to the arts, enrolled in the Budapest Royal Academy of Fine Arts at age 17 hoping to study painting. Mother Laura encouraged Eva to pursue a craft in order to obtain a marketable skill, and so she changed from painting to pottery. She began learning the craft of ceramics and went to work for a German manufacturer where she proved adept at design and was influenced by the Bauhaus art movement. Modern decorative arts including ceramic dishes, tea sets etc. were beginning to be produced for the masses and Zeisel was a pioneer in this movement.
In 1934 Zeisel began another remarkable part of her long life by joining her brother in Stalinist Russia. By 1935 she was appointed Artistic Director for the Soviet Ceramic Industry. In 1936 she was arrested and imprisoned for being involved in a plot to assassinate Stalin. Zeisal spent 16 months in prison, 12 in solitary confinement, and was subject to torture and attempts at brainwashing. After the 16 months she was mysteriously boarded on a train to Vienna, probably due to her Mother's tireless efforts, but no official explanation was ever given. Eva immediately went to England where she married Hans Zeisel, a childhood friend. They immigrated permanently to America in 1938, showing up in New York with $64 to their name. A year later Zeisel had founded the Ceramic Arts Industrial Design Department of the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. She continued to teach there until 1952.
Through the 1940s and 1950s, Zeisler designed ceramic ware and even glass ware for many of the popular mass manufacturers like Red Wing and Fenton. Her style, with its distinctly round, fluid, sensual flowing lines, was a hit. This was a time when what came to be known as the Decorative Arts; ceramics, glass ware, pottery and furniture were designed by some of the most gifted artists, yet was targeted at the growing middle class.
Still working today at 104 yearls old, Zeisal is designing ceramic dinner sets for Crate and Barrel and Bloomingdale's.
Posted by Aitch at 10:46 AM