New York – Friedman Benda will inaugurate the opening of its gallery with a seminal exhibition of new work by celebrated architect Ettore Sottsass. Created over the last three years, this body of work has never been shown publicly in its entirety. It marks the culmination of a series of limited edition furniture and glass works that Sottsass has spent the last fifteen years designing which have rarely been shown outside of museums. The exhibition will be on view from September 19 – October 27, 2007. An opening reception will be held on September 19th at Friedman Benda, located at 515 West 26th Street.
Recognized for his uniquely subversive and counterintuitive vision, at 90 years of age, Ettore Sottsass continues to be one of the most influential architects working today. This vision, expressed in the upcoming exhibition of new studio pieces, brings together a lifetime exploration of material, color and form into their most elegant and seductive application yet.
The cabinets, constructed with highly architectural properties yet seemingly unfettered by structural constraints, feel like intimate buildings. Some focus on the smooth surface of a single tropical wood, while others combine materials such as polished or patinated aluminum. With legs made of huge slabs of seamless acrylic, some appear suspended in air. Up to ten feet high, some are monumental in size. Out of scale proportions and off-kilter details endow each design with a sculptural quality that entreats the viewer to explore every side. Even those that seem symmetrical at first glance, reveal elements askew when taken in at every angle.
The glassworks, Sottsass’ first in five years, combine various shapes and colors into his most intricate and dynamic exploration of the material. Sottsass first began working with glass in the early 1970s on Murano. Fascinated by its pre-formed fluid nature, glass became his most artistic vehicle for experimentation with color and form, and remains so today. Contradicting prevailing modernist conventions, he began using wire and glue to assemble pieces together in the mid-1980s. This now iconic method is employed in many of the works in the new collection.
Earlier this year, a retrospective at the Design Museum London, Work in Progress, previewed three of the cabinets included in this exhibition. Not since MoMA’s influential exhibition Italy: The New Domestic Landscape (1972) and the first exhibition of Memphis (1981) has Sottsass created an exhibition of this scale.