Eva Zeisel (1906 – 2011) was a Hungarian designer and ceramicist. She was born in Budapest. She was professionally active in Germany, Russia, Austria, and the USA. She settled in the United States in 1938.
She designed ceramics for many different clients and is best known for her dinnerware, including Stratoware, designed for Sears and Roebuck in 1942. She created the offbeat and humorous Town and Country Line for the Company Red Wing.
Over the course of her career,she designed over 100,000 objects.
Between 1923-24, Zeisal studied painting at Képzömüvészeti Akadémia (Academy of Art), in Budapest, under Vasari. She subsequently apprenticed in pottery.
Between 1927-32, she worked first for the Kispest earthenware factory in Budapest, and various ceramics factories in Germany, including a ceramics designer at Schramberg Majolika Fabrik and the Carsten ceramics factory. She was familiar with Werkbund and Bauhaus forms.
In 1932, she went to the Soviet Union, where she worked in various ceramics factories, including a sanitary ceramics plant and at the Lomonosov porcelain factory in St. Petersburg under Nikolai Suetin. Suetin applied motifs to some of her forms.
From 1934, she worked for the Deulevo ceramics factory in Moscow. She became the artistic director Central Administration of the Glass and China Industry of the USSR, Moscow. During the Stalin Purges, she was imprisoned between 1936-37. She was released and deported via Vienna and Britain and settled in the USA.
Between 1939-53 she taught at Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, New York. Between 1959 and 1960, at the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, Rhode Island. During this time, she was also designing for clients.
Her ceramic designs of the 1940s reflected the organic furniture of the time. Her classic 1942-45 Museum White dinnerware, designed in collaboration with the New York Museum of Modern Art, was produced by Castleton China, New Castle, Pennsylvania. It emulated the Functionalist ceramics made by major factories in Europe, especially those in Arzberg and Berlin.
In 1996 and 1997, select pieces from Zeisel’s Town and Country Line were reissued with her permission by World of ceramics of Morganton, North Carolina. Another manufacturer reissued other Town and Country pieces for sale through the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Museum White china subject of 1946 ‘Modern China by Eva Zeisel’ exhibition, New York Museum of Modern Art. Work included in the 1991 USA ‘Design 1935-1965: What Modern Was travelling exhibition. Work was the subject of the 1984 ‘Eva Zeisel: Designer for Industry’ travelling exhibition organized by Musee des Arts Decoratifs. Montreal. Received 1983 Senior Fellowship National Endowment for the Arts.
Co. Staff, Martingale and, ed. 20th Century Dinnerware. Collector’s Compass Ser., 2001. https://doi.org/10.1604/9781564773777.
Kovel, R. M., & Kovel, T. H. (2007). Kovels’ American collectibles 1900-2000. Random House.
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