Ettore Sottsass, Jr. - Contemporary Art & Design Evening Sale New York Wednesday, March 6, 2013 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Acquired in the late 1980s by a private Dutch collector

  • Literature

    Hans Höger, Ettore Sottsass, jun., Berlin, 1993, p. 169
    Fulvio Ferrari, Ettore Sottsass: Tutta La Ceramica, Turin, 1996, p. 139

  • Catalogue Essay

    Sottsass conceived the present lot in 1967 but did not realize it until 1986, when Sergio Cammilli included it in the “Mirabili” collection. The collection was produced by
    Bitossi, a firm Sottsass had worked with since the early 1960s. The design for “Menta” is contemporary to totems he showed at Sperone Gallery, Milan in 1967 at an exhibition titled “Menhir, Ziggurat, Stupas, Hydrants and Gas Pumps.”

    For Sottsass, the medium of ceramics was imbued with references to antiquity and ancient cultures, a connection he formed during travels throughout India in 1961. His ruminations on ceramics as both a medium of daily use and as historic record helped him to crystallize his conception of the role of the industrial designer in society. Despite the inspiration that he took in tracing the societal importance of ceramics, he fiercely objected to the notion of crafts, or “art ceramics.” Speaking in Montelupo Fiorentino in 1959 Sottsass urged: “…what must be done is to create new forms and designs and colors and functions to be produced industrially and launched on the big markets, for the new cities, the new houses, the new rooms.” (Barbara Radice, Ettore Sottsass: A Critical Biography, London, 1993, p. 54) By the late 1960s Sottsass was also working under the influence of various American art movements, including Pop Art. The present lot is an expression of these ideas, its monumental scale and totem form connoting historical and cultural signicance and its crisp vibrancy a clear adoption of Pop Art’s vocabulary and values.


“Menta” totem

circa 1986
Glazed earthenware, plastic laminate-covered particle board.
86 1/8 x 18 7/8 x 18 7/8 in. (218.8 x 47.9 x 47.9 cm)
Produced by Bitossi, Italy and distributed by Mirabili, Italy. Number 2 from the edition of 20. Base with bronze label impressed with “Sottsass/MENTA/2 / 20/Mirabili/Italy.”

$20,000 - 25,000 

Sold for $25,000

Contemporary Art & Design Evening Sale

7 March 2013
New York