Soviet Art

USSR Culture

Designer Eva Zeisel designer, ceramist and sculptor

Designer Eva Zeisel and her contribution to the development of Russian porcelain

Eva Zeisel, née Striker, is an internationally renowned designer, ceramist and sculptor, born on November 13, 1906. However, she herself did not like the modern word “designer” and preferred to call herself “the creator of things”. Eva lived 105 years and continued to do what she loved until the last day. During her long life, she managed to work in Hungary, Germany, the Soviet Union and the United States, and left a noticeable mark in each of these countries. The dishes that came out of her hands are not just beautiful: they are both delicate and functional. Rounded cups and handles delight the eye with smooth lines and fit comfortably in the hand. You can imagine these products both in a museum and in your home kitchen.

Before the Soviet Union

Eva Stricker was born in 1906 in Hungary to a prosperous Jewish family. His father owned a textile industry, and his mother taught history at the capital’s university. Eva herself decided to devote herself to creativity and entered the Higher School of Fine Arts, but did not finish it.

Having visited the International Exhibition of Decorative and Industrial Arts, the young artist was imbued with ideas about bringing beauty into everyday life. Academic studies seemed boring and outdated to her. And the girl dropped out of art school to become an apprentice potter.

Success was not long in coming. A year later, the ceramics of the talented student was exhibited at the next World Exhibition and even received an honorary diploma, and in Hungary Eva opened her own workshop. Not wanting to stop there, in 1928 she moved to Germany, got a job at the Schramberg majolica factory and got acquainted with the ideas of the Bauhaus.

Eva in Berlin. Pat (or Pirco) mentioned hooded cape for possible use in Carstens’ chapter.

Eva Zeisel’s life in the USSR

In Germany, Eva met the Kharkov physicist Alexander Weisberg. They got married in 1932 and together went first to Kharkov and then to Leningrad. At the LFZ, the talented artist falls into the group of the main reformer of Soviet porcelain Nikolai Suetin, becomes his student and is fond of the course of Suprematism. In their joint works, the rigid lines of the avant-garde painting are harmoniously combined with the softness and plasticity of forms. The famous services “Suprematism” and “Intourist” are created with the participation of a young ceramist.

Eva Zeisel’s talent was quickly appreciated, and at the age of 29 she became the artistic director of the porcelain and glass industry of the entire Soviet Union. A corresponding goal was set for her: to bring Soviet porcelain to the world level. According to the artist’s models, products are produced at the LFZ and the Dulevo Porcelain Factory. During this period, the famous Dulevo series “Mokko” was developed. Eva helps reorganize 47 porcelain factories, produces dishes for home use and catering. Along the way, she travels to different cities, meets many famous people and even dines with Stalin.

When the Stalinist repressions gained momentum, the career and prosperous life of a successful foreigner ended overnight. One night she is taken from her home and taken to a cell on the ridiculous charge of plotting to assassinate Stalin. She was released only a year and a half later thanks to the petitions of her husband and the intervention of the European intelligentsia, organized by her mother. Immediately after the release, deportation followed, and Eva went to Austria to stay with her relatives.

Zeisel after leaving the USSR

Even after so many events, it can be said that Eva Stricker’s life was just beginning. In Austria, she met her second husband, Hans Zeisel, with whom she later lived for 60 years. In 1938 they get married and, fleeing fascism, leave first to Great Britain and then to the United States. Eva called America her second homeland.

In the first weeks she had to become a cleaner, but soon she finds the first customer through the library magazine. Her work is immediately delightful. After 4 years, Eva Zeisel was already lecturing at the Pratt Institute and became the first woman to be shown a solo exhibition by the Museum of Modern Art. After moving to the USA, the designer’s style changed. Her pieces have become even more sophisticated and feminine, with soft shades and smooth color transitions. Eva Zeisel’s trademark is “streamlined” forms. Among American connoisseurs, her Stratoware service has become a cult.

With the departure from the USSR, the history of cooperation between Russian masters and the famous designer does not end. In the early 2000s, she again came to Russia to make a new bone china service for the IPE. This material is more difficult to work with than regular hard porcelain. And it is not easy to give it the signature Zeisel shape. But Eva Zeisel with a team of plant specialists achieved success and created a wonderful service “Talisman”, which they continue to produce today.