The musée Mandet in Riom has wealthy collections of art objects, in particular silver plate from the XVIIth and XVIIIth centuries for civilian use, as well as contemporary decorative art, focused on silver plate works, from the 1950s to our day. The museum, which regularly presents the work of designers, wished to pay a special tribute to an unusual creator, for whom form was not to be an empty/gratuitous gesture but rather an act that had a reason.
A major figure of Italian design, Ettore Sottsass was born in Innsbruck in 1917 and passed away in 2007. He went through the XXth century following his own poetic and rebellious, joyous and iconoclast path. From the beginning Sottsass combined disciplines. A graduate from the Polytechnic in Turin (1939) he set up his own agency in Milano in 1947. He participated various times to the Triennale of modern art and architecture of Milano as well as in a great number of exhibitions in Italy and abroad. After the war he carried out various architectural projects before becoming in 1957 artistic director for Poltronova, a furniture manufacturer. His design accepts this controlled multiplicity: «My vocabulary is an esthetics of the combination of materials, glass, ceramic, marble, wood, but there is a strong symmetry and colors, many colors… for the sake of sensuality, for the pleasure of the senses. »
Illustration: Portrait of Ettore Sottssas © Santi Caleca
A quarter of a century in objects
In an original scenography of Rémi Bourdier, the exhibition presents some sixty pieces - furniture, ceramics, glass, silver and gold plate, jewels, industrial objects – that allow us to appreciate the diversity of the designer’s style and its evolution since the beginnings of Memphis, in the 1980s, up to his last works in 2006. The objects are on loan from great French public collections: the Fonds national d’art contemporain, Musée national d’art moderne, Musée d’art moderne de Saint-Etienne, Centre international de recherche sur le verre et les arts plastiques de Marseille, as well as the manufactures of Sèvres and Baccarat. For the first, he created from 1993 to 2006, twenty unique forms: 19 colored vases and a white and gold table centerpiece. After a long period of perfecting his project, in 2002 he designed for the second a collection of a limited series of ten pieces, named after Mesopotamian divinities.
Ettore Sottsass. Sèvres, les temps d’un voyage, 2006, 32 p., 30 colored photos, publisher: Bernard Chauveau, 17 €
Ettore Sottsass Jr, .2006, 296 p., 180 colored photos, publisher: HYX, 45 €
Illustration: Valentine typewriter - 1969. Olivetti Publication© Public domain. Musée d'Art Moderne de Saint-Etienne Métropole / Yves Bresson Adagp 2009
To see other illustrations, click on FRENCH VERSION at top of the page.