Published 3 January 2017
Panter and Hall are delighted to be showing a collection of original paintings from the estate of the late Margrete (known as Grete) Marks (1899-1990) from the 7th - 25th of November. This will coincide with the Jewish Museum’s upcoming exhibition of the émigré influences on British ceramics ‘Shaping Ceramics’, in which Grete’s work will be shown alongside that of Lucie Rie and Hans Coper, from 10th November. Grete’s work is becoming increasingly well-known and is starting to claim the recognision it justly deserves. This stunning collection of paintings are a beautiful documentation of the era and most definitely worth the visit.
Grete’s estate is held by her daughter Dr Frances Marx who has been kind enough to talk to us about some of the memories she has of her mother’s working life, and give us access to these wonderful photographs. There is a detailed narrative of Grete’s life ‘Grete Marks: When Modern Was Degenerate’, which is illustrated through forty artworks. This was developed by the Milwaukee Art with the help of Frances.
Grete was born in Cologne, Germany where she attended her first art school. She then went on to study further in Dusseldorf before joining the famous Bauhaus School of Arts in 1920. Grete married Gustav Loebenstein in 1923, and together they established the ‘Haël Werkstätten,’ one of the leading pre-war potteries in Germany which was dedicated to progressive design. Following the early death of her husband in 1928, Grete took on the running of the factory which employed over one hundred people.
The National Socialists forcibly purchased the business in 1934 in the growing tide of anti-Semitism; the following year Grete and her family were forced to flee to England. Ambrose Heal, whose department store had regularly stocked Grete’s products helped the family escape. She continued to work in ceramics at Mintons and in Stoke. She later married the English educator, (Frances’ father) Harold Marks.
Frances says “ceramics and painting were of equal importance throughout my mother’s life” “she preferred to paint outside” and I can remember being “cold reading whist she painted barges on the Thames."
Frances remembers “sitting doing my homework, in a triple portrait of me” made by “Herand mirrors” which made a scene “similar to the Velasqueth” while she posed for her mother.
When she was not creating, Grete played “played the piano; Beethoven and Mozart sonatas”
In the 1950s Grete was a regular exhibiter at the Redfern Gallery in Cork Street. The gallery’s influential director Rex Nan Kivell hung her work alongside those of Nicholson, Scott and Piper.
Frances kept hamsters at this time and Rex complained that “he would prefer it if the studio smelt less of hamster and more of oil paint.” When asked which is her favourite painting by her mother, Frances answered that it is the painting of her father Harold Marks.
“Grete painted until she had a stoke that affected her vision.” She died in London aged 91Share this article