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Cartier design viewed by Ettore Sottsass at MFAH
Chimera" Mystery Clock. Gold, platinum, grey carved agate chimera (Chinese, eighteenth century), nephrite, faceted citrine dial, rose-cut diamonds, emeralds, oriental pearls, red and black enamel. © Cartier


HOUSTON, TEXAS.- The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, presents Cartier design viewed by Ettore Sottsass. Cartier Design viewed by Ettore Sottsass presents for the first time a special selection of objects from The Cartier Collection, displayed in individual showcases created by Italian designer Ettore Sottsass.

Cartier, one of the world´s most renowned creators of jewelry, has been making brilliantly crafted, luxurious designs since 1847. Although its main focus has been providing jewelry and accessories to their clientele, the firm has also maintained a private collection of outstanding works from the 19th and 20th centuries. Numbering 1200 objects, the collection also includes drawings and watercolors as well as other related materials. The collection is not accessible to the public, and is not in a museum environment. Many of the pieces were acquired by Cartier on the open market, and are one-of-a-kind.

In 2000, Cartier invited Ettore Sottsass, the legendary avant-garde Italian architect and designer, to curate an exhibition from the firm´s private collection. Although portions of the collection had been on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the British Museum and the Hermitage previously, this was the first time that Cartier ceded complete control of the curatorial process. Sottsass chose the 200 works for the exhibition based on his own design principles, and designed the showcases, lighting, and the total exhibition environment.

The objects include brooches, necklaces, tiaras, rings, bracelets, accessories and clocks as well as enlarged design sketches. They date predominantly from the first half of the 20th century and have influences ranging from the art deco and classicism to the Asian styles so popular during the period. Each object is exquisitely crafted, opulent, and has a strong, dramatic presence.

Cartier design viewed by Ettore Sottsass was previously shown at the Vitra Design Museum Berlin, the Palazzo Reale in Milan, and in Japan. The MFAH will be the only American venue. A fully illustrated catalogue designed by Ettore Sottsass and published by Skira accompanies the exhibition.

More about Ettore Sottsass: Ettore Sottsass was born in Innsbruck, Austria, in 1917. He graduated in architecture from the Turin Polytechnic in 1939. In 1947, he opened his own practice in Milan, where he worked on architecture and design porjects, and developed his cultural pursuits. Sottsass has taken part in several Milan Triennales, and exhibited in group and solo shows in Italy and abroad. He is recognized for his role in the international renewal of design in the years immediately before and after the Second World War.

In 1981, together with a number of collaborators, friends, and architects of international repute, Sottsass set up the Memphis group, which quickly became synonymous with "new design" and a landmark in the contemporary artistic avant-garde. In the same year he founded the Sottsass Associati partnership, with which he has continued his career as an architect and designer.





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