Axel Johann Salto - Design London Wednesday, October 14, 2009 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Private Collection, Copenhagen, Denmark

  • Catalogue Essay

    Ordered disorder characterizes the relief ornamentation of Axel Salto’s stoneware vessels. Their textured surfaces resemble the tubercles of gourds or a reptile’s granular scales. In a 1999 New York Times article, William Hamilton 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'. In The Sprouting Style (1949), 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 Sung dynasty blackwares. As potter Edmund de Waal has pointed out, a pervasive unease attends the work. Salto wrote of his own forms, “Strangely, no one is really comfortable with such perilous and eruptive shapes.” 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.


Monumental and important ‘Budding' vase

c. 1956
Stoneware, 'Sung' glaze.
38.4 cm. (15 1/8 in.) high
Manufactured by Royal Copenhagen, Denmark.  Painted with '21332', printed with manufacturer's mark, painted with three wave motif and incised with 'SALTO'.

£35,000 - 45,000 


15 Oct 2009