Eva Zeisel, by Kelsey Pizzato
Eva Zeisel was born in Budapest in 1906. At age 17 she entered the Royal Academy of Fine Arts to study painting, with the insistence of her mother, she decided against painting and instead switched her focus to ceramic art. At the age of 19 she began an apprenticeship to traditional potter and began to learn the trade that would bring her many accreditations in years to come. She quickly excelled in the area of pottery and within her first two years in the trade she had work displayed in galleries and had earned several honorable mentions.
She was very sought after as industrial production potter, and was employed at factories in Schramberg Germany. Here she became the first woman and one of the first people to move ceramic arts into contemporary mass production. For many years her ideas were well received and she was honored for her many accomplishments in industrial ceramics.
In 1936, tragically, in a Stalinist purge she was accused of plotting against the life of Stalin while living in Russia. For 16 months she was imprisoned and tortured in the NKVD prison. Her traumatic experiences were inspiration for her long time friend Arthur Koestler’s novel Darkness at Noon. Upon release she moved to America and married. In years following she taught at American universities, had a son and daughter, and continued to design for industrial ceramics.
The mediums that Eva works in are; ceramic (hand built, wheal thrown, molds, industrial), glass, metal, stage sets, and furniture design. Her style has been described as art-deco. She is inspired by the curves of her human body and the curved of others, though there is nothing organic about her shiny and symmetrical pieces other then the inspiration for her shapes. Though Eva’s first love in art was painting it is interesting that her pieces do not have much of a painterly quality, as they are primarily mono chromatic, though some have graphic design qualities to their surfaces. In class we have studied few potters, so it is difficult to relate her work to what we have studied. She makes art because she enjoys it, because she is good at it, and because for her it is lucrative. She in innovative and well into her 90’s she continues to influence design and her pieces are very pertinent to the design of the 21’st century, though the prime of her life was in the 20’th century.
I believe that it is important for people to study this artist because, her art had been relevant and functional for almost 100 years, and well into the twilight of her life she continues to produce art and influences others. She had designed mass-produced inexpensive pieces that are extremely functional and she also had made fantasy objects. Artist young and old should study her life and her work because she has successfully managed to make the craft that she loves into a lucrative career, she has her brain children sitting in the kitchen of many homes, she has a great mind for appearance in functionality and she was one of the forefathers of industrial ceramics.
Ludden, Jennifer. "Raising the Curve: Designer Eva Zeisel." National Public Radio. 26 Feb. 2005.PBS.25 Nov. 2008
"Who is Eva Zeisel?" About the Eva Zeisel Forum. 4 Oct. 2008. Eva Zeisel Forum. 25 Nov. 2008