Strike a Pose: Quick Bite Reboot

Dear Readers — Please enjoy this Museum Quick Bite reboot of Strike A Pose, originally posted on August 7, 2020.

Today on Museum Quick Bites we’re tripping the light fantastic beneath a star-studded sky. On display at the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA), Lajos Mack’s posh ceramic vase (c1900) features a cast of fashionable ladies-with-an-attitude striking a pose.


Slip Cast Ceramic Vase (c1900) by Lajos Mack, Detroit Institute of Arts

Tricked out in minty floor-length gowns, four sets of trios perform a synchronized dance beneath a dazzling night sky. Their wavy, ginger-spice bobs have a flapper girl vibe. Elegant and ethereal, their flowy forms are quintessential art nouveau. Can you see them whirling and twirling in unison to a Hungarian waltz? Or perhaps busting some moves to Madonna’s Vogue?

Close-Ups of Slip Cast Ceramic Vase (c1900) by Lajos Mack, Detroit Institute of Arts

Look around, everywhere you turn is heartache
It’s everywhere that you go (look around)
You try everything you can to escape
The pain of life that you know (life that you know)
When all else fails and you long to be
Something better than you are today
I know a place where you can get away
It’s called a dance floor, and here’s what it’s for, so

Come on, vogue
Let your body move to the music (move to the music)
Hey, hey, hey
Come on, vogue
Let your body go with the flow (go with the flow)
You know you can do it
~ Lyrics from Vogue (1990) written by Madonna & Shep Pettibone

Lajos Mack (1876-1963) was a Hungarian ceramicist, craftsman and sculptor. He trained at the Akademie der bildenden Künste Wien (Vienna Academy of Fine Arts). After receiving his degree in 1899, Mack went to work for the Zsolnay Porcelain Manufactory. He worked for the company for 17 years designing gorgeous works of art like the vase featured here.

Left: Vilmos Zsolnay (c1890s), Wikimedia Commons

Top Right: Zsolnay Earthenware Plate (prior to eosin glaze; c1880), Metropolitan Museum of Art

Lower Right: Zsolnay Earthenware Plate (prior to eosin glaze; c1880), Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Zsolnay Manufactory was established in 1853 by Miklos Zsolnay (1800-1880), in Pecs, Hungary. In 1890, his son, Vilmos (1828-1900) created the company’s trademark eosin glaze. After firing, the first eosin ceramics developed a reddish hue caused by the metal oxides in the coating. The iridescent glaze reminded Zsolnay of the blush of early morning dawn, and thus, it was named after Eos, the Greek goddess of dawn. Zsolnay subsequently tinkered with the eosin glaze in order to produce a wide variety of rich, vibrant tones and the shimmery results are stunning.

Left: Eosin Vase (c1900) by Vilmos Zsolnay, DIA, Photo by KovacsDaniel, Wikimedia Commons

Right: Zsolnay Vase (c1898-1900) by József Rippl-Rónai, Art Institute of Chicago

In 1893, Zsolnay’s first eosin products hit the market with a splash, and the company continues to manufacture these one-of-a-kind pieces to this day. Click on this Zsolnay Manufactury link, courtesy of the Zsolnay company to see more of their work.

Fun Art-y Fact:  Art Nouveau was a popular art movement that began in Europe during the late 1800s. Works of art are characterized by long, sinuous lines and pale green, blue, yellow and/or brown tones. Click on this Art Nouveau link, courtesy of The Art Story to learn more.

Left: Art Nouveau Example, The Kiss (Der Kuß, 1907–1908) by Gustav Klimt, Belvedere, Wikimedia Commons

Right: Art Nouveau Example, Tiffany Lamp (c1902), Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Photo by Fopseh

That concludes our look at Lajos Mack’s eosin vase. I’ll be back next week with more Museum Quick Bites. Until then, be safe, be kind, take care and…strike a pose! Click on this Vogue link if you’d like a little help from Madonna (vogue, vogue).

Cover photo by Fabio Marciano, courtesy of Pixabay.


Art Institute of Chicago: Eosin Vase (c1898-1900) by József Rippl-Rónai

Britannica: Art Nouveau

Britannica: Eos

Budapest Auction: Lajos Mack

Detroit Institute of Arts: Lajos Mack Vase (c1900)

Detroit Institute of Arts: Vilmos Zsolnay Eosin Vase (c1900)

Elite Design Gallery: Zsolnay Porcelain Manufactury

Google Arts & Culture: Zsolnay Porcelain Manufactury

Metropolitan Museum of Art: Eosin Vase with Handle (c1900)

Metropolitan Museum of Art: Zsolnay Earthenware Plate (c1880)

The Art Story: Art Nouveau

Zsolnay Porcelain Manufactory

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