"Alessandria d'Egitto" bookcase from the "Bau.Haus II" collection

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  • Condition Report

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  • Provenance

    Art et Industrie, New York
    Rick Kaufmann, New York
    Acquired from the above by the present owner, 2002

  • Literature

    Kazuko Sato, Alchimia: Never-Ending Italian Design, Tokyo, 1985, p. 17 for a drawing
    Hans Höger, Ettore Sottsass, jun.: Designer, Artist, Architect, Berlin, 1993, p. 94
    Ronald T. Labaco, Ettore Sottsass: Architect and Designer, exh. cat., Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, 2006, p. 123
    Peter Weiß, Ettore Sottsass: Bau.Haus I, II, Bönen, 2009, pp. 12, 58 for drawings and p. 59

  • Catalogue Essay

    In 1980, the Italian radical design collective Studio Alchimia released their “Bau.Haus II” furniture collection, which included the present model. Art et Industrie, a former gallery in New York, introduced Studio Alchimia's furniture to U.S. audiences and included the present lot in their first American exhibition of the group's work. The furniture line’s name ironically references the modernist Bauhaus school of design that promoted minimalist forms and functionalism. Sottsass, who worked both independently as well as in collaboration with Studio Alchimia, vehemently rejected this philosophy in favor of design that exhibited elements of pastiche, humor, and play. The title of the present lot, "Alessandria d'Egitto," (Alexandria, Egypt) is an example of this whimsical approach to design, recalling the city’s famous ancient library—an apt reference for a bookshelf. This allusion, paired with Sottsass’s irreverent use of everyday materials and bright colors, makes the present lot a now-classic example of postmodern Italian design.

61

"Alessandria d'Egitto" bookcase from the "Bau.Haus II" collection

circa 1980
Plastic laminate-covered wood, chiseled aluminum.
67 1/4 x 84 5/8 x 19 3/4 in. (170.8 x 214.9 x 50.2 cm)
Produced by Studio Alchimia, Milan, Italy.

Estimate
$12,000 - 18,000 

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Design

New York Auction 17 December 2019