28 January 2019



Phillips Announces

Ettore Sottsass Fragile.

Ceramics – Enamels, 1955 – 1970


An Exhibition of Ettore Sottsass’ Work in London

Showcasing Historic Ceramics and Enamels from Private Collections


4 – 15 February 2019, London

LONDON – 28 JANUARY 2019 – A non-selling exhibition dedicated to the ceramic and enamel work of Italian architect and designer Ettore Sottsass will open to the public at Phillips’ London galleries on 30 Berkeley Square from 4 to 15 February. Co-curated by historian Fulvio Ferrari and collector Charles Zana, this exhibition showcases a comprehensive selection of ceramics and enamels from throughout Sottsass’ career. Hailing from two private collections, this exhibition marks the first time these museum quality works will be shown alongside each other.


Domenico Raimondo, Senior Director, Head of Department, Europe and Senior International Specialist: Arguably one of the greatest theoretical architect and designers of the 20th century, Ettore Sottsass was a true design radical whose achievements in the fields of ceramics and enamels are celebrated in this exhibition. Sottsass dedicated a great part of his career to the medium of ceramics where some, if not the highest expressions of his design language were achieved. A range of examples from the designer’s most important series will be presented. We look forward to sharing them with both new and longstanding admirers of his work.”


Sottsass has lately garnered a great deal of attention, especially following the recent exhibitions at the Met Breuer in New York City and the Triennale Design Museum in Milan, both celebrations of his 100th birthday. Phillips achieved a new auction record and extraordinary results for Sottsass throughout 2018, consistent with the ever growing demand for the architect. The record result was for Composizione di elementi di legno colorato e specchio, 1959, which over tripled the low estimate and sold for £309,000.


Ettore Sottsass


Born in Innsbruck, Austria in 1917, Sottsass grew up in Turin. His father, also named Ettore Sottsass, was an accomplished Italian architect. The young Sottsass went on to have an exceptionally productive career that spanned over six decades, with a vast body of work spanning architecture, ceramics, textiles, jewellery, painting, glass, and furniture, all with a distinctive aesthetic language. Sottsass was inspired by the ancient forms he encountered during his travels to India in the 1960s, and various contemporaneous objects. He began to reinterpret these through Pop culture, having been exposed through his first wife Fernanda Pivano to the writings of Allen Ginsberg and the other Beat poets, as well as American Pop culture. In 1981, Sottsass went on to found the insolent design collective Memphis.


Highlights from the Exhibition


The exhibition examines an important part of Sottsass’ life, with works dating from 1955 to 1970. The selection of iconic enamel pieces has previously been shown in Paris, Milan and other European capitals, as well as important ceramics previously exhibited at the Venice Biennale Olivetti Showroom designed by Carlo Scarpa.


Sottsass contributed to the most significant chapter of 20th century Italian ceramic production, culminating in over a thousand different models. When it came to enamels, Sottsass was the only Italian architect who was able to produce objects using the very difficult technique of high-fire glazing.

Panel Discussion – Ettore Sottsass: Terracotta

On 5 February at 5pm, Phillips will host Ettore Sottsass: Terracotta, a discussion panel with Fulvio Ferrari and Charles Zana, and moderated by Deyan Sudjic, Director of the Design Museum, London.

Exhibition: 4 – 15 February 2019

Location: 30 Berkeley Square, London




Phillips is a leading global platform for buying and selling 20th and 21st century art and design. With dedicated expertise in the areas of 20th Century and Contemporary Art, Design, Photographs, Editions, Watches, and Jewelry, Phillips offers professional services and advice on all aspects of collecting. Auctions and exhibitions are held at salerooms in New York, London, Geneva, and Hong Kong, while clients are further served through representative offices based throughout Europe, the United States and Asia. Phillips also offers an online auction platform accessible anywhere in the world.  In addition to providing selling and buying opportunities through auction, Phillips brokers private sales and offers assistance with appraisals, valuations, and other financial services.

PRESS CONTACTS:                        

LONDON - Katie Carder, Head of Press, Europe                                        kcarder@phillips.com                +44 20 7901 7938

PHILLIPS LONDON - 30 Berkeley Square, London, W1J 6EX

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