The name of Margarete Heymann-Loebenstein’s 'Haël Workshops' for ceramics derives from pronouncing the initial letters (H-L) of her double name. At the Bauhaus she was considered talented but thought to be unsuitable for the ceramics workshop. Under her artistic direction, the Bauhaus’s own ceramic business became a popular modern company.

Portrait of Margarete Heymann-Loebenstein (later Heymann-Loebenstein-Marks), Photo: unknown, around 1925. Bauhaus-Archiv Berlin.
Portrait of Margarete Heymann-Loebenstein (later Heymann-Loebenstein-Marks), Photo: unknown, around 1925. Bauhaus-Archiv Berlin.

Margarete Heymann, born in Cologne in August 1899, studied painting initially at the College of Applied Arts [Kunstgewerbeschule] in Cologne and then at the Academy of Fine Arts in Düsseldorf. In 1920, just 21, she was accepted for a place at the State Bauhaus in Weimar, where she initially took the obligatory preliminary course with Johannes Itten and was then admitted to a trial semester in the ceramics workshop directed by Gerhard Marcks. Heymann also attended courses by Paul Klee, Georg Muche and Gertrud Grunow. Barely a year after starting there, she abruptly dropped out of her studies at the Bauhaus, for reasons that are today no longer clear. The decision may have had something to do with various decisions by the Council of Masters, who repeatedly only admitted her to the ceramics workshop on a trial basis. On 24 June 1921, for example, the records state, ‘Miss Heymann will only receive final notification at the end of the semester, as her suitability for craft work (pottery) cannot yet in principle be assessed.’ And finally, on 12 October 1921: 'Admission of Grete Heymann. Marcks states that both he and Krehan consider her probably talented, but not suitable for the workshop. Decision postponed to the next session.' No works by the ceramics artist dating from her time at the Bauhaus are known of.

After her break with the Bauhaus, Grete Heymann ran a ceramics course for children at the College of Applied Arts in Cologne and worked part-time in a ceramics workshop in Frechen. In 1922, she took a post as an artistic assistant in the Velten works of the Velten-Vordamm stonework factories, near Berlin. A year later, she married the economist Gustav Loebenstein. Together with his brother, the couple rented a disused kiln works in neighbouring Marwitz. Based on the first letters of their double name, Heymann-Loebenstein (Ha-ël), they took the name 'Haël Workshops' for it; they purchased the kiln works in 1926. The ceramic workshops expanded rapidly and became a modern company under the artistic direction of Margarete Heymann-Loebenstein.

When her husband and brother-in-law died in a car accident in 1928 on their way to the trade fair in Leipzig, Heymann-Loebenstein found herself on her own with the company and two small children. In 1933, her five-year-old son also suffered a fatal accident. Under financial and political pressure (Heymann was of Jewish descent), she closed her Workshops for Art Ceramics on 1 July 1933. She sold the company to Heinrich Schild the following year. He continued to run it, along with Hedwig Bollhagen, who subsequently managed it successfully on her own up to her death. In December 1936, Heymann-Loebenstein emigrated to the United Kingdom, where she taught at the Burslem School of Art in Stoke-on-Trent. Following her marriage to Harold Marks, she founded her own small pottery, the 'Greta Pottery,' which she had to close during the war. At the end of the war, the artist resumed ceramics production in her own studio, while also giving a painting class at the Camberwell School of Arts and Crafts. Margarete Heymann-Loebenstein died in London in 1990.

 

[AG 2015]

 

Literature:
Müller, Ulrike (2009): Margarete Heymann-Loebenstein-Marks, in: Müller, Ulrike (ed.): Bauhaus-Frauen. Meisterinnen in Kunst, Handwerk und Design, München, p. 70–75.
Hudson-Wiedenmann, Ursula (2002): Von den Haël-Werkstätten zur Greta Pottery. Grete Heymann-Marks, in: Jürgs, Britta (ed.): Designerinnen. Vom Salzstreuer bis zum Automobil, Berlin, p. 72–86.
Markanto (2014): Bauhaus aus Köln: Das Werk von Margarete Heymann-Loebenstein, http://www.markanto.de/blog/2014/bauhaus-aus-koeln-das-werk-von-margarete-heymann-loebenstein.htm, 10.6.2016.
Theis, Heinz-J. (2012): Margarete Heymann-Loebenstein (1899–1990) und ihre HAЁL-Werkstätten für künstlerische Keramik in Marwitz, http://design20.eu/design20-blog/2012/06/hael-keramik-1923-1933/, 10.06.2016.