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Ettore Sottsass Italian, born Austria

Not on view

Sottsass showed twenty-one totemic industrial ceramic works in the exhibition "Menhir, Ziggurat, Stupas, Hydrants & Gas Pumps" in Milan in 1967. He based their forms on the most ancient and fundamental markers of human intention: menhirs and cairns such as those at Stonehenge, Indian stupas and linga, and ziggurats, which express the desire to ascend toward the heavens. However, fire hydrants and gas pumps were also a source of inspiration. Technically complicated to manufacture, the cylinders maintain a relationship to the power of mass production and consumption. Sottsass conceived his first totem while recovering from nephritis in 1962, when he sketched one from the cocktail of medicines that saved his life. Each of the five totems in the exhibition represents contemporary social, political, or spiritual concerns.

Totem, Ettore Sottsass (Italian (born Austria), Innsbruck 1917–2007 Milan), Glazed earthenware, white lacquered wooden base

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