Marguerite Wildenhain

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Marguerite

Wildenhain

Lyon, France
<p>Image: © OpenStreetMap contributors</p>

Marguerite Wildenhain was born Marguerite Friedlander in 1896 in Lyon, France. Her German silk merchant father and English mother had Wildenhain and her siblings schooled in the classical European tradition with a focus on art, music, and foreign languages.

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Weimar, Germany
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Marguerite Wildenhain was among the first students to enroll at the Bauhaus in Weimar, Germany, an art school recognized for combining training in the fine arts, craft and industrial design. While a student at the Bauhaus from 1919 to 1926, Wildenhain developed a deep appreciation for the craftsmanship and functionality of objects. After seven years of apprenticeship, Wildenhain was the first and only woman to earn the title of Master Potter.

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Halle, Germany
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In 1926, Maguerite Wildenhaim moved to Halle, Germany, where she was appointed head of a ceramics workshop. During her time in Halle, she also became affiliated with the Royal Berlin Porcelain Factory – the leading manufactory at the time – where she created important designs for mass-production that continue to be made today. Her time at Halle came to an end when the Nazis drove her out of her position on account of her Jewish heritage.

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Guerneville, California
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Maguerite Wildenhain began to teach in Pond Farm, a rural arts work shop in Guerneville, California, in 1942, after helping its proprietors set up the facility. Pond Farm was a pilgrimage destination for many aspiring artists, including Wildenhain’s friend Trude Guermonprez, a Bauhaus graduate who also spent time at Black Mountain College. Pond Farm was known for encouraging artists to master craft before turning to personal expression. Wildenhain taught summer courses at Pond Farm until 1980.

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Asheville, North Carolina: BMC
<p>Image: Shōji Hamada, Bernard Leach, Sōetsu Yanagi, and Marguerite Wildenhain during the 1952 Pottery Seminar. Photo by William Watson. Courtesy Western Regional Archives, State Archives of North Carolina, Asheville, NC.</p>

Marguerite Wildenhain participated in Black Mountain College’s Pottery Seminar, held from October 15 to 29, 1952. She gave the opening lecture of the seminar, which sparked a long debate with another seminar participant, the celebrated British potter Bernard Leach, who claimed that the United States had no strong ceramic traditions. The fierce exchange between Wildenhain and Leach culminated with the publication of a text by Wildenhain in a 1953 issue of the magazine Craft Horizons, in which she defended the many diverse traditions she discerned in contemporary American ceramics – and celebrated the multiculturalism of her adopted home.

Image: Shōji Hamada, Bernard Leach, Sōetsu Yanagi, and Marguerite Wildenhain during the 1952 Pottery Seminar. Photo by William Watson. Courtesy Western Regional Archives, State Archives of North Carolina, Asheville, NC.