February 12, 2011 - May 15, 2011

Kunsthal, Rotterdam, Netherlands
Kunsthal Rotterdam presents Ettore Sottsass’ enamels from 1958 which together constitute a quintessential phase within the career of this Italian designer and architect. In the late Fifties Sottsass built up an oeuvre of works in geometrical forms of which colour is the key element. By means of lines and circles he experimented with colourful enamel on vases and on plates. Over one hundred objects and drawings by Sottsass, who is generally considered to be one of the leading members of the Memphis group, are at the basis of the revolutionary designs that became his claim to fame later on.


The years in between 1957 and 1961 are crucial to Sottsass’ career. He was educated at the Polytechnic University of Turin and, fully in line with his rationalist education, started to build up an oeuvre consisting of simple geometrical patterns. In 1958 he investigated the complex  technical process of enamelling and explored its artistic possibilities. The vitreous nature of enamel gives a physical thickness to surfaces, irregular yet smooth and shiny, and offers the possibility to use pure and extraordinarily vivid colours. Sottsass was clearly enchanted by the material quality of enamel and attached it to wooden vases and metal plates.

In the vases he designes the enamel is exalted by contrast with the natural warmth of the wooden bases. The exhibition sheds light on this  highly productive designing period in Sottsass’ career and provides a valuable insight into the development of his oeuvre. Sottsass’ is best known for designing the iconic red plastic Olivetti Valentin typewriter (1969) and the expressive Carlton bookcase (1981).


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