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Petra on pottery

featuring West German art pottery, Fat Lava and more 20th century ceramics

Category Archives: Van Eyk

Since I do not find their pieces very often and having a soft spot for Atelier Van Eyk, I feel every piece by Anton and Dorothea Van Eyk deserves a post. So here it is, my latest, a globular vase looking somewhat like…… a pumpkin.

It is a peculiar piece, I think, compared to the 1950’s work that is probably more known (see below), so I am not very confident on putting a date on it. Of course, roughly speaking it would be between 1940-1960, unless it is a fake. The hand thrown body of the vase is a traditional globular shape and for a Van Eyk piece it seems quite large, being 16 cm/ 6.3″. It has a smooth white clay body with a thick orange glaze. The glaze decoration has the same elegant simplicity and shows similar care in spacing en execution as the other pieces I have from the 50’s. The thickness of the glaze and the colour combination I have not seen before, though.

I have this little black vase with a white twirl in the dents on all four sides, that seems more typical of their 1950’s work. It is around 7 cm/2.8″ in height and shown below left, next to a portrait of Anton and Dorothea Van Eyk.

 

For comparison and to broaden the scope beyond my own collection, I also gathered some images below of the more known work by Atelier Van Eyk from the 1950’s. I got part of these from the website of the current Atelier Van Eyk which operates, in line with the wishes of Anton van Eyk, as a place for art exhibitions, workshops, music recitals and theater. Link: Atelier Van Eyk . The images with the striped teapot and spotted vases….I can not remember the source of…. (archive of Wilhelmina Spolders?). Should you know the source, please let me know, so I can give due credit.

My Atelier Van Eyk collection has been substantially enlarged with a recent find of a 27 piece service. For sure I now have the largest online collection by this potters duo. Hardly anything ever comes up on google, ebay or where ever, so I think this is not being presumptuous.

The service was beautifully made. Like the other two pieces I featured in earlier posts, these are terra sigillata dating from 1950. On the bottom of the coffee pot it is signed “Handmade Holland Van Eyk” (see picture at the bottom of this post). The service is quite modern in its appearance, functional and to the point. The decoration is of a nice simplicity and the whole set looks very unpretentious and effortless. The pieces feel very nice when you handle them. You can tell they were designed with their future user in mind, each piece fitting nicely into your hands and pleasant to the touch.

Despite of its modern simplicity, undoubtedly influenced by the Bauhaus design philosophy (planning to getting back to that in a later post), the service has a certain sweetness about it.  It has a perfectly smooth surface, decorated with all these little dots which are about the same size and equally spaced right around the pieces. Notice the single dot on the top end of the handle of the little sugar spoon (see picture at the top of the post). The shapes are super basic and nicely proportioned, emphasizing and echoing the simple circular shape throughout the whole set. Also there is this nice balance between the white glazed surfaces and the red terra sigillata. It all fits perfectly and so much care seems to have been put in the design and execution of this service.

I think this is the special thing about handmade pottery as apposed to industrial pottery. Anton and Dorothea van Eyk actually made these pieces themselves. In all these subtle ways you can catch a glimpse of their spirit through the work of their minds and hands. The service shows such an artistic sensitivity and beauty in its simplicity, I absolutely love it.

I started this blog with a post on Atelier Van Eyk. The little ashtray I featured was my only item by potters and artists couple Anton and Dorothea van Eyk so far. Now I have a second one! In a matching decor also dating from 1950, I found a small dish (diameter of 14 cm/5.5″ and 6 cm/2.4″ high), that like the ashtray is made in Terra Sigillata. It is quite delicate, standing on a foot and decorated with a large amount of glaze dots.

The Terra Sigillata pieces by Atelier van Eyk were quite popular during the early 1950s. They were, among others, sold at the distinguished department store the “Bijenkorf” in Amsterdam. Anton and Dorothea were working from a studio in Amsterdam during that time, after having fled Elstra in East Germany where they were under suspicion of spying against the Russians. They had to leave the pottery factory in Elstra behind, where they had been working from 1940 onward. In Amsterdam however, they found it hard to maintain their pottery business, despite the success of the Terra Sigillata. They were only producing small series and one-offs of high quality and the competition within the art pottery business at that time was stiff. In 1955 they went back to Germany to continue their work from Nettetal, just across the border from the Netherlands, in the family business of Anton van Eyk. Here they produced works predominantly for their old East German clientèle. Atelier van Eyk went out of business in 1960, having made some excellent art pottery that, for obvious reasons, is very hard to find.

In 1976 Anton and Dorothea van Eyk moved to a huge stretch of land in Leuth (Germany) bordering on the Venloer Heide (moor). Here they spend the remainder of their life living in a caravan, working on their dream to create an art park and a home, with Dorothea designing the park that featured many large and small works of Anton van Eyk. Dorothea (born Fischer in 1912) died in 1995, Anton (born December 7, 1911) died January 19, 2004.

Besides Horst Makus, I used the article (in German) by Sigrid Blomen-Radermacher from 2003 for the background information in  this post. Also thank you Wilhelmina Spolders for kindly mentioning the birth and deceased dates of Anton van Eyk.

I am starting this blog with a post on Atelier Van Eyk.

Featured here is an ashtray by Van Eyk, just 5 cm/ 2″ high, that will fit nicely in the palm of your hand. However small, I treasure this piece, because Van Eyk pottery is very hard to come by. The atelier was founded by Dorothea and Anton van Eyk in 1940. They made wonderful pieces of art pottery in small series and one-offs until they closed in 1960. This ashtray is possibly from 1950.

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