Margarete or Grete Marks was born in Cologne, Germany, where she studied at the School of Arts and later at Dusseldorf Academy before entering the Bauhaus School of Arts in Weimar in November 1920. At this time the Bauhaus was in its first incarnation under Walter Gropius and enjoyed enormous influence over the fine and decorative arts throughout Europe.
After a brief period working in a pottery at Velten and teaching at the Arts and Crafts School in Cologne, Grete married Gustav Loebenstein and they established the Hael-Werkstatten a ceramic works committed to progressive design. Their ceramics proved extremely popular and were exported to the England, France, Sweden and the USA. Tragedy struck in 1928 with the untimely death of her husband but Grete continued to run the factory throughout the economic nightmares of the Weimar Republic. Finally, the growing tide of anti-Semitism proved too great and having ceased production in 1932 the National Socialists forcibly purchased the business in 1935. Fleeing Germany with her young family Grete was helped to come to England by Ambrose Heal, whose department store had regularly stocked Grete’s products.
Following an exhibition of several hundred paintings and an equal number of pots at Burslem School of Art, the Alma Mater of Clarice Cliff and Susie Cooper, Grete began to teach there. A brief period designing her own label at Mintons, led her in 1938 to begin her own works in Stoke while continuing to design for other manufacturers including Foley China and Ridgways of Shelton. In Stoke Grete met her second husband Harold Marks and they moved to the Staffordshire Moorlands where Grete concentrated on her painting. At the end of the war Harold returned from the army and the couple moved to London, Grete continuing to paint and beginning to make studio pottery.
Grete had begun exhibiting in London in 1937 at Brygos and at the New Burlington Gallery the following year, by the 1950s she was a regular exhibiter at the Redfern Gallery in Cork Street. The gallery’s influential director at this time Rex Nan Kivell championed her work and Grete would have hung alongside the great names of post war British art. With this close association with Nicholson, Scott and Piper amongst many others, Grete clearly absorbed the stylistic advances of the day both in technique and palette.
This collection of paintings produced in the bleak post war years captures the essence of British contemporary landscape painting of the 1940s and 50s. All sourced from her studio these paintings show a record of her life in Britain at the time, punctuated by trips to Cornwall, Scotland and Spain. At her best Grete Marks’ paintings stand up well next to her currently better-known contemporaries at the Redfern.
The many international collections who hold her ceramics include the Bauhaus Archiv, the Brohan Museum, the Victoria & Albert Museum and The British Museum (with works on Paper). Her paintings are held in the The Royal Festival Hall and the National Museum of Wales where an exhibition of her work was held in the 1980s. In 2018 The National Gallery of Ireland purchased three works from Panter & Hall for their permanent collection.
Grete Marks died in London in November 1990, aged 91.
If you are interested in any of the reserved paintings, it is worth contacting the gallery as there is a chance that they may become available.
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