Eva Zeisel: The Playful Search for Beauty

October 8, 2004–February 6, 2005
Decorative Arts Gallery

Designer Eva Zeisel has had a long and fascinating life. Born in Budapest in 1906, Zeisel studied at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts but decided early on to become a potter. After working in Hungary and then as a designer in Germany, she moved to the Soviet Union in 1932 and began working in the ceramic industry there, against a backdrop of turbulent political change. In 1936, Zeisel was arrested in a Stalinist purge and imprisoned for 16 months, spending most of the time in solitary confinement. After her release, Zeisel moved to Vienna but was soon forced to flee the Nazis, and finally came to America. Here she created the work for which she is famed today: softly curving, intimate ceramics that marry the Surrealist style of “biomorphism” with the clean modernism of the best mid-century design. This exhibition offers a rare opportunity to see many of her early designs and some of her latest, many of which will be exhibited to the public for the first time.

Eva Zeisel: The Playful Search for Beauty is organized by the Design Lab at the Knoxville Museum of Art. The exhibition is curated by Glenn Adamson, curator of the Chipstone Foundation and MAM adjunct curator.
  • Eva Zeisel, Nambe Bowl, 1999. Collection of Sydney A. Warshaw. Photographer: John Paschal.
  • Eva Zeisel, Unity, Harmony and Freedom bud vases, Nambe, 1999. Private Collection.
  • Eva Zeisel, Salt and Pepper Shakers from Town and Country, designed ca. 1945–1946. Red Wing Pottery (Red Wing, MN) Glazed earthenware