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Marguerite Wildenhain

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Marguerite Wildenhain

French/ American, (1896–1985)

Wildenhain is known in the field for her Bauhaus training and teaching methods. She was born in Lyon, France to a German father and an English Jewish mother. After high school, Marguerite made ceramic decorations in a porcelain factory, but when she saw workers throwing vessels —she knew what she wanted to do with her life. The Bauhaus called for students in 1919 and she enrolled. After eighteenmonths of foundations courses with Paul Klee, Lionel Feininger, Joseph Albers, and Wassily Kandinsky, she was taught to design, throw, calculate glazes and fire vessels. The last student admitted to the ceramics program was Franz Wildenhain, who became her husband a few years later.

When political change closed the Bauhaus, Marguerite taught ceramics in a city school where she finished her requirementsto become the first female master potterin Europe. Since Jews needed to leave Germany, she set up a pottery studio in Holland for seven years. Herlast move was northeast of San Franciscoto a remote mountain sitewhere she created Pond Farm pottery and summer school. In America she introduced the Bauhaus sit down kick wheel and throwing method. She made her own work in the winters, wrote three books, and traveled extensively for spring college workshopsto forty-seven states over the next thirty years. From 1950-1980 about two dozen students came to Pond Farm each summer for intense instruction about pottery, philosophy, art and life. Since her death, the property and buildings at Pond Farm have been preserved and have been designated a "National Treasure" by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Born in Lyon, France in 1896, Marguerite Wildenhain attended schools in Germany and England before studying sculpture at the Berlin University of the Arts in the 1910s. After her graduation, Wildenhain worked as a decorator at a porcelain factory, where she was first introduced to ceramics and the potter’s wheel. Her new interest in pottery led Wildenhain to enroll at the Bauhaus, where she studied for six years. In 1925, Wildenhain became the first woman to earn a Master Potter certification in Germany. Wildenhain began a teaching career at the Burg Giebichenstein School of Fine and Applied Art, where she was the head of the ceramics workshop and designed prototypes for mass-produced ceramic dinnerware.

Wildenhain moved to the Netherlands in 1933 due to the rise of the Nazis in Germany. While in the Netherlands, Wildenhain opened a new ceramics studio, where she worked until 1940, when she immigrated to California. When she wasn’t teaching at the Pond Farm, Wildenhain traveled around the United States teaching and lecturing at a number of academic and artistic institutions until her death in 1985.

Artist Objects

Jar 1984.509

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