new-york

Ettore Sottsass, Libreria (Library), 1965, lacquered wood walnut, brass, ceramic vessels, 102 3/8 × 96 1/8 × 12 3/4".

Ettore Sottsass

Friedman Benda Gallery

Ettore Sottsass, Libreria (Library), 1965, lacquered wood walnut, brass, ceramic vessels, 102 3/8 × 96 1/8 × 12 3/4".

In a letter from 1987, no less a towering figure of twentieth-century design than Aldo Rossi credited his compatriot Ettore Sottsass (1917–2007) with “the destruction of established architecture.” The establishment that Rossi was referring to was modernism, or what Sottsass himself once described as the Bauhaus legacy of “functionalism, functionalism, functionalism,” that still lingered decades into the postwar era. And there is no question that throughout the course of his career, spanning well over half a century, Sottsass cemented a reputation as one of the most famous—even notorious—apostates of modernist orthodoxy. The furniture exhibited at the 1981 Milan Furniture Fair by the Memphis Group, which he had founded the previous year, made headlines for its explosion of vivid hues, vibrating patterns, and exuberant, Pop-inflected geometry. This emphasis on color,

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