Life, Art & the Validity of Experience

July 27, 2011 § 2 Comments

Experience is not what happens to you; it is what you do with what happens to you.   ~ Aldous Huxley

A friend brought this story of a woman designer to my attention, thinking I might find it inspiring.

It most definitely is.

The world is full of talent, full of success stories and tales of old glories ~ and new this and that’s roll in as steadily as tides hit shorelines. But how often do you hear of someone still producing marketable stuff at the tender age of 104?

It goes to show that discipline, passion, and vision are not bounded by age ~ and that experience counts. Just think of all that life going into works of art!

Eva Zeisel’s story is fascinating, her work remarkable, her longevity dazzling.


The following is an excerpt from a Wall Street Journal Article. 

When the lighting company Leucos announced recently that it was debuting a line of lamps by Eva Zeisel, even the collecting cognoscenti had to do a double take.

Ms. Zeisel is one of the great modernist designers of the 20th century. But what was she doing in the 21st? She was born around the same time as W.H. Auden, who’s been gone for nearly 40 years, and Frida Kahlo, nearly 60. Turns out that at 104, Ms. Zeisel is still creating her “things,” as she calls her designs, for companies ranging from Kleinreid to Design Within Reach.

The definition of a survivor, Ms. Zeisel was born in Budapest, went to Berlin for the glamorous period of the 1920s and then to Russia in the ’30s. “The arts from Russia seemed fresh and appealing,” she said. “So I decided to go and see what was behind the mountain.” There she had a run-in with Stalin, who imprisoned her for 16 months.

In 1938, she arrived in New York with $67 in her pocket and was given the first-ever one-woman show, seven years later, at MoMA. These days, she weekends near Nyack, N.Y., where she spoke to us about her life and latest works. (Read the full article here.)

Eva Zeisel was born in Budapest, Hungary on November 13, 1906. Over the last 86 years, she has become a world-renowned and honored designer. The most prestigious of all Eva’s accolades came in 2005 when she received the National Design Award for Lifetime Achievement by the National Design Museum, Smithsonian. At 99 years old, she could have used the award to bring closure to a very successful and productive career. However, Eva chose to continue to design new works of art to share with all of us.


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