'For the Love of Labour’: The Ceramic Art of Margit Kovács (1902–77)

Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference Paper


Hungarian-born ceramicist-sculptor Margit Kovács (1902–77) set up her pottery studio in Budapest in 1934 and employed assistants to help with mass-production. The scope and diversity of her oeuvre is emblematic of Central-Europe’s interwar industrial design culture and the aesthetic ideals of post-war Socialist Realism, ranging from architectural ornaments to terracotta sculptures and painted wall-tiles. After the 1949 political shift to communism, Kovács became a popular ceramicist of the Hungarian diaspora worldwide and her clay figurines were mass-produced and sold in state-owned arts and crafts shops. The artist often expressed her ‘love for labour’ and the ‘joy of art-making’ as physical work, which, particularly during the 1950s, resonated with peacetime reconstruction and socialist work ethics. This paper examines Margit Kovács’ art produced in the 1950s-60s, arguing that Kovács had a remarkable astuteness to find equilibrium between ‘made to order’ craft and creative art-making. I inquire into the extent to which Kovács’ approach to applied art, and the medium of clay presented an advantage during the onset of communism and I examine the ways she adapted to the changing political climate in terms of her choice of subject matter and the production, display and dissemination of her work.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 20 Nov 2020
EventGLOBAL NEW VOICES: ART, CRAFT & INDUSTRY: 19 - 20 November 2020, Online - online, United Kingdom
Duration: 19 Nov 202020 Nov 2020


Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


  • ceramics
  • patronage
  • Cold war
  • Art History
  • Hungarian Art
  • Socialist Realism


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