"Eva Zeisel: The Shape of Life" @ the Asheville Art Museum
Eva Zeisel, Town and Country Salt and Pepper Shakers for Red Wing Pottery, in production 1947-1956, tall 4.5 x 2.75 inches/ short 3 x 2 inches, glazed earthenware. Asheville Art Museum Collection
ASHEVILLE, NC.- The designs that introduced mid-century modern to daily life in the 1950s and have remained important today await visitors to the Asheville Art Museum’s exhibition Eva Zeisel: The Shape of Life opening January 30, 2009. An Opening Reception with Gallery Tours will be held Sunday, February 8, 2009 from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m.
Eva Zeisel (1906 – ) was born Eva Amalia Stricker in Budapest, Hungary. Always interested in the arts, she entered the Budapest Royal Academy of Fine Arts at age 17. She left the academy in 1925 to work with a potter in Budapest. In 1938, after being imprisoned for 16 months by the Soviet government for being accused of participating in an assassination plan against Stalin, Zeisel moved to New York.
Zeisel’s design career continued to develop in the United States. In addition to designing for companies such as General Mills, Rosenthal China and Castleton China, she taught one of the first courses in industrial design at the Pratt Institute in New York and had the first one-woman show at the Museum of Modern Art in 1946.
Zeisel’s designs are made for use. The inspiration for her sensuous forms often comes from the natural organic curves of the body, taking advantage of the softness of clay. Zeisel’s approach to modernism most likely comes as a reaction to the Bauhaus aesthetics that were popular at the time of her early training. Her sense of form and color show influence from the Hungarian folk art she grew up seeing. Zeisel’s designs are often made in sets or in relationship to other objects. Many of Zeisel’s designs nest together creating modular pieces that also function to save space.
Recent designs have included a teakettle for Chantal, glasses for Nambé, a sink and bathtub for Signature, ceramics for KleinReid as well as of one of Crate and Barrel’s best-selling dinner services. Her best-known work includes the eccentric, biomorphic “Town and Country” line of dishes produced by Red Wing Pottery, The “Tomorrow’s Classic” and “Century” lines for Hallcraft, the “Museum” line from Castleton, which was exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, and the “Tri-Tone” line by Hall.
Zeisel’s works are in the permanent collections of Brohan Museum, Germany; the British Museum; The Victoria and Albert Museum, London; the Musée des Arts Decoratifs de Montreal and The Museum of Modern Art, New York, among others. In 2005, Zeisel was awarded the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Award for Lifetime Achievement. This exhibition was organized by the Erie Art Museum. Eva Zeisel: The Shape of Life is on view through May 10, 2009 and is free with Museum Membership or admission.
Eva Zeisel, The Orange Chicken, New York, NY, Coffee Table, designed c. 1980, produced 1997, birch plywood, glass. Courtesy of the Erie Art Museum