Published: February 20, 2007
Hundreds of designers, Eva Zeisel fans, and students came to view the retrospective of Zeisel’s work at the Pratt Manhattan Gallery that Pratt mounted in November to celebrate the 100th birthday of the legendary ceramicist.
Design students awed at the modern curves and sleek lines of Zeisel’s designs created nearly 80 years ago and still applied today in her houseware designs that are mass-produced for Crate and Barrel, Nambe, Chantal and numerous other collections. The exhibition featured original pieces of innovation design, including current works-in-progress, and more than 100 rare examples of ceramics, furniture, glassware, metal and textile designs from Zeisel’s personal collection. The exhibition was curated by Karen Kettering, curator of Russian and Eastern European art, at the Hillwood Museum in Washington, D.C.
“We are delighted to welcome Eva back to Pratt and sponsor this amazing collection that reflects Eva’s extraordinary life and her art,” said Pratt Institute President Thomas Schutte. “Eva was instrumental in shaping Pratt’s Department of Industrial Design and she continues to be an inspiring force in the art world today.”
Zeisel was born into a Jewish Hungarian family 100 years ago. She spent her early years in Budapest and gained her training in ceramic art in German and Russian factories. She honed her skills in the Soviet Union where she served as the artistic director of the Russian china and glass industry. While in the Soviet Union, Zeisel was wrongfully imprisoned for more than a year, mostly in solitary confinement, on the charge of plotting Stalin’s assassination.
Once freed, in 1938, Zeisel and her husband fled Russia and landed in New York City. A year later, Zeisel created the first course of study in the United States in ceramic art at Pratt and she continued teaching at the institute until 1953. Last year, Zeisel received the National Design Award for Lifetime Achievement by the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt Museum, and in 2002 she received a Pratt Legends Award.
Pratt’s Manhattan Gallery is at 144 West 14th Street. For information, 212-647-7778.
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