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A Margaret of Many Names: Margarete Heymann Lobenstein and Finally Grete Marks(1899-1990)

Grete Marks Tea Set
Margarete Heymann Löbenstein Marks (German, 1899–1990), Tea Service, ca. 1930. Milwaukee Art Museum, Purchase, Decorative Arts Deaccession Fund, M2011.17.1-.21. Image from Wright auction (Chicago, IL).

My quest to find Margarets for my Pinterest Board led me to an artist who had a proliferation of names, variously Margaret, Margit, Margarete, or Grete, and Heymann then Loebenstein(her first husband who was killed in a car accident in 1928), then Marks(her second husband).  It took me awhile to realize this was all the same person.  A name becomes so entwined with identity, yet she is called by so many, depending on the author.  Her final name seems to have been Grete Marks, so that is what I will call her.

Grete Marks  was born Margarete Heymann in Germany in 1899, and studied at the Bauhaus school of design, where she was pressured by the administration to be a weaver rather than a potter, because she was a woman.  Marks prevailed, and when she married Gustav Lobenstein, they opened a pottery together.  When Lobenstein died, she took over the company herself, but had to flee Germany.  She was Jewish, and the Nazi’s called her work “degenerate,” and forced her to sell the factory at a loss in 1934.  A former client brought her to England, with her two sons, where again Marks worked The Potteries at Stoke-on-Trent.  Her singular vision, and imaginative shapes did not sit well with the traditional ceramics industry in English countryside, and the Pottery let her go.

A bowl and a teapot designed by Margarete Heymann in 1930.
A bowl and a teapot designed by Margarete Heymann in 1930. Sotheby’s

When you think of “tea set” from 1930’s England, these are not what come to mind.  No flowers.  No gilded edges.  Look at those delicious colors below, luminous yellow, with robin’s egg blue glowing from the inside.

Tea Set by Margarete Heymann Loebenstein Marks
Tea Set by Margarete Heymann Loebenstein Marks

 

Marks moved to London and continued to make pottery, and also started painting.  According to Collection Soehlke, she also made “pottery pictures” with pieces of broken pottery.  I couldn’t find any photos of her pottery pictures, and the mosaic artist in me wants to see what they looked like, a manifestation of a desire to reunite a fractured career and life.

Margarete Heymann Loebenstein Marks(1899-1990)© aus dem Band "Bauhaus-Frauen", Elisabeth Sandmann Verlag, 2009
Margarete Heymann Loebenstein Marks(1899-1990)© aus dem Band “Bauhaus-Frauen”, Elisabeth Sandmann Verlag, 2009

 

A Distant Bauhaus Star

Interview with Frances Marks, Daughter of Grete Marks

Fabulous series about acquiring a Grete Marks Tea Service for a Museum, by Mel Buchanan

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