Saturday, August 12, 2017

Ettore Sottsass at the Met Breuer

Saw this colorful and boisterous exhibition yesterday at the Met Breuer and can easily tell you to go and see it. I've know Sottsass designs and objects since the early 70's and this show is a great opportunity for those who are not familiar with his stuff which I think is a large group to get to know it.
Probably he is best known for his connection to the Memphis design group and its wild ideas on design both functional and far out. The show is colorful and fun because his work make great use of color, form, design and outrageous notions about what is design and who gives a fuck. The work is loony and loopy cartoony and animated.
His most famous object is probably the Olivetti manual typewritter from 1968, all bright red and glowing, and its here on display, but I was always more intrigued by his furniture and ceramics and glass works many of which are also on display.
They are beautiful, fanciful and tactile I really had a hard time not touching them, rubbing my hands across their beautiful surfaces. Also on display and this is where my problems with not only this show but with this current "in" curatorial idea of presenting objects and such that the artist did not do, but which they (the curators) think deserve and need to be seen along aside the artist's work and serve for them (the curators) as a teachable moment.
These moments are starting to drive me nuts, so in this show there are many many examples of other artist's work, some known and some anonymous going back to nearly prehistoric times, this is after all the Met, and they have the stuff to pull out of their storage bins. So we get some great work by Joseph Hoffmann (how about the Met just give him a show of his own) some marvelous Hopi kachinas (who doesn't like kachinas) and wonderful pieces of antiquity from Egypt and India all placed along side Sottsass's pieces, that just confuse and for some like me simply annoy. .
I mean do we really need some minor Lichtenstein works on paper? or oh no not another tired old Frank Stella painting. And really what does the Donald Judd piece teach me about Italian design? This is not only a practice at the Met, Its all over the place you can see it at the Moma, The Whitney and at practically every museum in the city. Leave me alone, I don't need you curators telling me why this artist relates to that artist, and also why is it necessary to call every show and artist seminal.


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