Axel Johann Salto - Design London Wednesday, April 29, 2009 | Phillips

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  • Catalogue Essay

    Ordered disorder characterises the relief ornamentation of Axel Salto’s hand built stoneware vessels and ceramic sculptures. Their textured surfaces resemble the tubercles of gourds or a reptile’s granular scales. A 1999 New York Times article labelled Salto “a ceramist who confronted nature.” Perhaps the opposite was true: nature confronted him. Regardless, they stood face to face. A Danish potter, painter, and illustrator, Salto kept a studio at the Royal Copenhagen Porcelain Manufactory from the 1930s until his death in 1961. He categorised his best known works as “budding”, “sprouting”, and “fluted”. He wrote, “The vase is a living organism. The body buds, the buds develop, and a sprouting – even prickly – vessel results.” Like his forms, Salto’s glazes agitate: they pool and drip akin to Song dynasty Jian blackwares, in the case of Lot 62. Potter Edmund de Waal has pointed out the pervasive unease attending Salto’s work. “Strangely, no one is really comfortable with such perilous and eruptive shapes,” Salto wrote in The Sprouting Style (1949). Uncomfortable perhaps, but persuasive; Salto won a Grand Prix at the Milan Triennial in 1951. Unlike the functionalist wares of his compatriots, Salto’s vessels push and move. The effect is one of irrepressible growth, like cell division.


Rare and early horizontal 'Budding' vase

late 1940s
Stoneware, 'Jade' glaze.
20 cm. (7 7/8 in.) diameter
Manufactured by Ipsen, Denmark. Impressed with 'SALTO' and Ipsen marks.

£4,000 - 5,000 

Sold for £5,000


30 Apr 2009, 2pm