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Christie's Private Sales presents Ettore Sottsass: Important Works from a Private Collection
Active across all categories of expression, from architecture to craft, Ettore was a unique personality who was able to synthesize seemingly opposed influences, encompassing the authoritative rigor of fin-de-siècle Austrian architecture, American Pop culture, Eastern spirituality and technological progress, to render his own unique, fluent and highly painterly design vocabulary. Photo: Christie's Images Ltd 2013.
NEW YORK, NY.- Christie’s Private Sales announced its inaugural design exhibition of Ettore Sottsass: Important Works from a Private Collection is being held in New York from December 7-20, 2013. Ettore Sottsass (1917-2007) is regarded as one of the most significant and influential post-war architect-designers, whose idiosyncratic and highly versatile talents have guided a modern understanding of the relevance of Design. Presented to the public for the first time, works are drawn from the personal possessions of the designer and his wife, the pioneering literary agent, Fernanda Pivano (1917-2009), who exposed European audiences to the Beat writers. The collection encompasses more than 80 works of furniture, ceramics, metalwork, textiles and jewelry, alongside artworks, drawings, collages and examples of the self-published artists’ and poets’ books. The exhibition presents many previously unseen works, including furnishings and objects from the couple’s via Manzoni, Milan apartment, once featured in Domus magazine in early 1967.

Simon Andrews, Director of 20th Century Decorative Art & Design, comments, “Viewed in its entirety, the exhibition of the personal collection of Ettore Sottsass offers an unrivalled opportunity for a reassessment and an enriched interpretation of the pioneering figure and profoundly influential architect-designer. The collection is representative of the critical turning point in Ettore’s career, illustrating the transition from experimentation and intuition, towards the establishment of an aesthetic credo that was resolved, defined, and invested with highly personal mythologies.”

Active across all categories of expression, from architecture to craft, Ettore was a unique personality who was able to synthesize seemingly opposed influences, encompassing the authoritative rigor of fin-de-siècle Austrian architecture, American Pop culture, Eastern spirituality and technological progress, to render his own unique, fluent and highly painterly design vocabulary. A grandee of late 20th century Italian design, his is work is in institutions including The Museum of Modern Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Los Angeles County Museum of Art and Centre Georges Pompidou, among others.

Ettore’s life mirrored the international currents of the 20th Century. He was born in Austria at the sunset of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, a student of architecture in 1930s Italy, and briefly active in America during the 1950s, before returning to Italy for many decades of influential and systematic creativity. He established successful alliances not only with serial-production furniture manufacturers such as Poltronova, but also with an intuitive exploration of craft objects, ceramics, metalwork and jewelry, exemplified by his long collaboration with the influential Milanese gallery, Il Sestante. Best known as the founder of the 1980s seminal design collective, Memphis, named after a Bob Dylan song, the Milan group was famous for its brightly colored post-modern furniture, lighting and ceramics that defined that decade. He also designed iconic electronic products for Olivetti, such as the familiar bright red plastic Valentine typewriter, and the Elea mainframe computer.

A critical turning point for Ettore’s creative vision was after a trip to India in 1961 triggered a near-fatal illness that required Ettore to urgently seek medical attention and recovery in the San Francisco area in 1962. Here he and his wife, Fernanda Pivano, were immersed amongst the artists, writers and poets that represented the Beat movement. During their life, he and Fernanda surrounded themselves with the most influential writers, artists and musicians of their time – Allen Ginsberg, Helmut Newton, Carlo Mollino, Ernest Hemingway, Bob Dylan, Chet Baker, Umberto Eco, to name a few.



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