Posts tagged with "Memphis Group":

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Met Breuer exhibit introduces an Ettore Sottsass you've never seen before

Although Italian architect and designer Ettore Sottsass is perhaps most famous in the United States for his legendary design collective, Memphis, his life and career involve far, far more, as a fascinating new exhibition at the Met Breuer in New York reveals. Ettore Sottsass: Design Radical, on display through October 8, reevaluates his career in a presentation of works across a broad range of media, including architectural drawings, interiors, furniture, machines, ceramics, glass, jewelry, textiles, painting, and photography. These are presented in juxtaposition with ancient, more modern, and contemporary objects from the museum’s collection, which the museum said places Sottsass “within a broader design discourse.” Sottsass was born in Innsbruck, Austria, in 1917; his father, Ettore Sottsass Sr., was an architect who trained in the Viennese tradition of the modernist Otto Wagner and his pupils Josef Hoffmann and Kolomon Moser of the Wiener Werkstatte, whose designs influenced the younger Sottsass, the museum said, “with their elegant proportions and spare elegant forms.” Thus, the exhibition’s first gallery features a late 19th/early 20th-century plan for a house by Hoffmann; a 1920 desk set designed by Hoffman and made by the Wiener Werkstatte; Bauhaus textile designs; and a 1903 armchair designed by Moser and Hoffmann, shown with Sottsass’s late 1950s enameled copper round plates and an early 1960s hybrid table/desk/shelf/cabinet/chest of drawers designed for the Mario Tchou residence in Milan. A section of the exhibition on corporate design discusses the influence of American industrial designer George Nelson on Sottsass: The latter worked in the former’s New York office for a few months in 1956 during Sottsass’s first trip to the United States. According to exhibition curator Christian Larsen, Nelson’s impact can be seen in Sottsass’s early 1970s office furniture for Olivetti and in his 1980s patterns for Memphis. Larsen said that although mass production “allowed for miraculous economies of scale that dramatically provided the latest innovations to the wider public, it also seemed to indicate a culture of rabid consumption sameness and even alienation. Sottsass wrote that he would create ‘tools to slow down the consumption of existence ... to curb loneliness and despair.’” The exhibition also explores Sottsass’s designs for Poltronova, the visionary furniture company. Larsen believes these designs were influenced by everything from ancient Egyptian shabti boxes (containers for a deceased person’s needs in the afterlife, of which one is on display here) to the sculpture of American artist Donald Judd (also on display). Sottsass's own groundbreaking “Environment,” a system of movable modular cabinets, each containing a different domestic function, proposed for MoMA’s 1972 exhibition Italy: The New Domestic Landscape, is illustrated with a film made for that exhibition. There is also a section on Sottsass’s ceramics, influenced by his first visit to India in 1961 and a near-death illness in 1962, that features a striking forest of ceramic and earthenware Sottsass totems, one over nine feet tall, and another section devoted to his glass vase designs, some inspired by Native American katsina dolls, on display with ancient Greek and Roman glass and Hopi katsina. According to Larsen, “despite working on a variety of scales and in an array of mediums, Sottsass always called himself an architect. This vocation informed his fundamental approach to making and living.” To illustrate this, the exhibition features Sottsass’s drawings for the 1986-89 Wolf residence in Ridgeway, Connecticut, which he considered his first mature architectural work, as well as his “paper architecture” Planet as Festival series created in the early 1970s for Casabella magazine. Clearly, no Sottsass exhibition would be complete without a discussion of his designs for Memphis; this one displays his iconic 1981 “Carlton” room divider and 1985 “Ivory” table alongside other Memphis pieces by Andrea Branzi and Shiro Kuramata. In an interview last week, Larsen called Sottsass “a bottomless pit of production that will never run dry,” as well as someone whose work “both cut across the grain” and “makes us smile, which is important in today’s charged political times.”
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Met Breuer exhibit will explore Ettore Sottsass’s decades of works

An upcoming exhibition at the Met Breuer will examine the works of Ettore Sottsass (1917 - 2001), the celebrated Italian architect and designer who founded the Memphis group. Ettore Sottsass: Design Radical is a retrospective of Sottsass’s extremely productive—and provocative—career, which spans more than six decades. His earlier works include iconic designs for Italian electronics manufacturer Olivetti, for whom he designed office equipment, typewriters, computers, and furniture. It was there that he produced the Olivetti Valentine typewriter, a cherry-red portable, plastic typewriter that suddenly made office furniture cool again. His functional and rational approach to these machines and furnishing systems, however, was merely transitory. He moved away from his modernist beginnings by the 1960s, favoring qualities beyond the functional. Emotional appeal, symbolism, historical references, and the human condition all began to shape Sottsass’s postmodern works. His shift in ideology coincides with his travels to the U.S., where he worked briefly at designer George Nelson’s office, as well as his trip to India in 1961. Sottsass is perhaps best known for his work with Memphis, a design collective that peaked in the 1980s and challenged the conventional design norms of that era—the streamlined, midcentury style. Memphis exemplified postmodern 1980s design: saturated colors, geometrical motifs, plastic laminate, and eccentric forms that rejected established styles. While short-lived, the design movement has seen a resurrection, with a previous exhibition at the Jewish Museum, an auction featuring David Bowie’s collection of Memphis furniture, and now the Met Breuer’s exhibition. The exhibition will be presented in a range of media—including architectural drawings, interiors, furniture, machines, ceramics, glass, jewelry, textiles and patterns, painting, and photography. Juxtaposed with ancient and contemporary objects that influenced Sottsass, the exhibition aims to place him within a broader design discourse. Landmark projects, including visionary projects that influenced the founding of Memphis, will be on display. His later, lesser-known work will be highlighted in dialogue with pieces by other important 20th-century designers, including Piet Mondrian, Jean Michael Frank, Gio Ponti, and Shiro Kuramata. Ettore Sottsass: Design Radical will be open to the public on July 21st, with an education program on October 1st featuring David Kelley, co-founder of IDEO, on Sottsass. See the Met Breuer website for more details.
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Last chance to see Memphis designs at the Jewish Museum in NYC

A charming exhibition at the Jewish Museum in New York presents the religious and secular work of Peter Shire, an original member of the 1980s Milan-based Memphis design group, with other vintage Memphis pieces by its founder, Ettore Sottsass, and fellow member Michele de Lucci. The centerpiece of the exhibition—which is called "Memphis Does Hanukkah" and runs through February 12—is a menorah or lamp Shire created independently in 1988 for the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah. Exhibition curator Kelly Taxter called the Los Angeles–based Shire, who was born in 1947 and is still active, a “specialist in oddly designed yet always functional teapots.” She added that a magazine article about his teapot designs was in fact what brought Sottsass and him together. Shire’s 1988 menorah, made of industrial materials including painted steel, anodized aluminum, and chromium, has what Taxter described as "finish-fetish" detailing, which she said recalls Los Angeles' Pop, car, and surf cultures, and also “speaks to [Shire’s] knowledge of collective movements such as Russian Constructivism and the Bauhaus, in which artists and designers brought together the methods and aesthetics of industrial manufacturing with the vision and individuality of fine art.” Taxter further believes Shire’s work "reflects the radical, irreverent, and often humorous history and style of West Coast art. Known for a confluence of the natural, artificial, commercial and spiritual, Los Angeles is a place where light and space are as central as neon, billboards, and plastic." Memphis objects on display here include Sottsass's 1982 silver Murmansk fruit dish, described as an "alien, vaguely mechanical shape that looks as though it might suddenly spring into motion"; a 1979 laminate design also by Sottsass called Bactaerio; and Oceanic, a 1981 lacquered metal lamp by de Lucchi inspired by old ocean liners. There is also the invitation to the first Memphis exhibition in Milan in 1981, and a photograph from the same year of fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld at home in his Monaco apartment, outfitted entirely in Memphis pieces. Taxter features other, equally playful menorahs here, including a cast copper alloy one made in the 1930s-1940s that is composed of teardrop-shaped candleholders and rods, nuts, bolts, and screws, all influenced by car and airplane design. Other menorahs include the 2004 Menorahmorph, made of silicone and stainless steel, by Sottsass student Karim Rashid, and Larry Kagan’s 1980 Menora 2, made of steel diamond plate and steel tubing, the former used on doors that cover stairs to New York City shop and restaurant basements. Taxter said this material "represented [to Kagan] an urban vernacular redolent of the grit and grime of Soho, then a scruffy neighborhood where he and other artists congregated." This exhibition, which also features one of Shire’s early teapots, the 1983 Anchorage, made of silver, wood, and enamel, provides visually playful food for thought not only about religious objects and their many iterations, but also about the legacy of Memphis, which began falling out of favor at the turn of this century. Taxter, for one, believes Memphis is having somewhat of a comeback, displaying a dress made of fabric by Memphis member Nathalie Du Pasquier, who in 2014 was commissioned by American Apparel to create a series of Memphis-inspired prints for men's and women's garments.
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"Memphis Does Hanukkah" at the Jewish Museum

Masterpieces & Curiosities: Memphis Does Hanukkah features Los Angeles–based designer and artist Peter Shire‘s Menorah #7 (1986) and is part of a series of exhibitions that looks at the individual works in the museum’s collection. One of the original members of Milan design collective Memphis Group, Shire has dabbled with Judaica objects numerous times throughout his career—making use of oddly shaped and balanced geometries, fabricated with industrial materials, bright colors, and “finish-fetish” detailing. This is evidenced in the Menorah #7, currently on display. The work is synonymous with the Memphis aesthetic established by Ettore Sottsass and is exhibited alongside vintage Memphis pieces by Shire, Sottsass, and Michele de Lucchi, as well as related ephemera.

Masterpieces & Curiosities: Memphis Does Hanukkah The Jewish Museum 1109 5th Avenue New York Through February 12, 2017

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Explore David Bowie's extensive Memphis furniture collection due to be auctioned

Late British musician David Bowie's substantial collection of Memphis furniture is to be auctioned off. Before his death on January 10 this year, Bowie was a big fan of the Memphis design group and Italian designer Ettore Sottsass's work. During his lifetime, Bowie had accumulated more than 100 items of numerous sizes. Notable parts of his collection include Ettorre Sottsass's Carlton bookcase, the ‘Valentine’ Portable Typewriter, Martin Bedin's Super Lamp, and Peter Shire's Bel Air armchair. The items will be sold at Sotheby's auction house in London on November 11 this year. Now Sotheby's third auction since Bowie's death, items are expected to fetch between $70 and $8,600 (the Carlton Bookcase being the item in question touted for that price). “The works produced by the historical avant-garde design collaborative Memphis Milano, led by Ettore Sottsass, could not have found a more receptive and tuned-in audience than David Bowie,” said Cécile Verdier, co-head of 20th-century design at Sotheby’s. “This is design with no limits and no boundaries,” she continued. “When you look at a piece of Memphis design, you see their unconventionality, the kaleidoscope of forms and patterns, the vibrant contrasting colours that really shouldn’t work but really do.”
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"Memphis Does Hanukkah" on view at the Jewish Museum

Now on show at the Jewish Museum is Masterpieces & Curiosities: Memphis Does Hanukkah. The exhibition features Los Angeles-based designer and artist Peter Shire's Menorah #7 (1986) and is part of a series of exhibitions that looks at the individual works in the museum's collection.

The exhibition will be on view through February 12, 2017. The Masterpieces & Curiosities series has been running since 2013 with the Jewish Museum's curators, according to a press release, seeking to discover "objects that highlight the breadth and diversity of the collection."

One of the original members of Milan design collective Memphis Group, Peter Shire has dabbled without Judaica objects numerous times throughout his career while making use of oddly shaped and balanced geometries, fabricated with industrial materials, bright colors, and "finish-fetish" detailing. This is evidenced in the Menorah #7 which is on display at the exhibition. The work is synonymous with the Memphis aesthetic established by Ettore Sottsass and is exhibited alongside vintage Memphis pieces by Shire, Sottsass, and Michele de Lucchi, related ephemera.
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A new ceramics exhibition explores the work of Memphis member Peter Shire

A Survey of Ceramics: 1970s to Present will run at the Derek Eller Gallery from September 8 through October 9. The exhibition covers the life’s work of Los Angeles–based artist Peter Shire, an eminent ceramicist and former member to the Milan-based design collective Memphis. Shire’s work, spanning 40 years, borrows from Futurist and Bauhaus design while being distinctly influenced by late modernism and the Googie style of Southern California. Inspired by what he called “California High Kitsch,” Shire's work explores color, geometry, and function, often in playful and unexpected ways. Though his catalog includes everything from sculptures to teacups, Shire’s most notable and persistent form is the teapot. His life-long engagement with the teapot has produced typical and atypical configurations for the ubiquitous household item. Shire has spent a great deal of effort exploring teapot physics and the challenge of getting every last drop of water out. Shire’s inclusion in the influential Memphis group came after being featured in Wet Magazine early in his career. Personally invited to the group by Ettore Sottsass, Shire was part of Memphis from 1981 to 1988. During that time, he would help shape the world’s understanding of postmodern object art and design. Running concurrently with the exhibition at the Derek Eller Gallery, Shire’s work will also be on show at The Jewish Museum, in New York. Shire’s work has been collected by many of the country's preeminent museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, The Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and The Seattle Museum of Art. An opening reception will be held from 6 to 8 p.m., Thursday, September 8, at Derek Eller Gallery.