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Le Ceramiche Delle Tenebre. [The Ceramics of Darkness]. - Ettore Sottsass

Le Ceramiche Delle Tenebre. [The Ceramics of Darkness].

First edition. Loose leaf artist book [277 x 215 mm]. Two-colour offset-printed wrapper in thick card with grey titles on black background containing one loose original screenprint [640 x 278 mm] printed on black stiff card to both sides in bright gold, silver and red, and folded into three panels. 8pp accompanying text in Italian by the author printed on grey sugar paper. Design and layout by Sottsass. Milano: East 128, 1963.

Light edgewear and with a small circular crease at the edge of the screenprint. Colours fresh and bright.

In 1962 Ettore Sottsass was hospitalised with a severe form of nephritis following travels in India. Roberto Olivetti had secured hospital treatment for Sottsass in Palo Alto, California, where the name of his clinic room inspired the artist to create a magazine entitled the 'Room East 128. Chronicle', and a publishing imprint followed. Le Ceramiche Delle Tenebre was created during Sottsass' convalescence in Milan and is the first in a series of fourteen artist books published by the artist as East 128 Milano.

In an accompanying text inside the publication Sottsass speaks openly of the genesis of his ceramics and of the darkness that inspired them:
“I had thought of these ceramics last year when I was sick that I almost greeted my relatives, acquaintances and all my friends forever and I didn't pay much attention to them because by nature I am optimistic. But even if I'm optimistic, last year was a dark year: everyone was crying and talking about how I was going to die, whispering in the hospital corridor... Therefore this pottery is called the pottery of darkness. I thought of them at night when I could not sleep because of the medicines... We were miserable, silent, speechless, silenced. We had landed badly and this is a part of the darkness. The other shadows are those where you see everything black."

The pieces in the Ceramiche Tenebre series were deliberately handmade by Sottsass, taking a more personal approach than his usual serial production methods. The ceramics were composed of large cylinders glazed in black, muted blues, burnished bronzes, platinums, and golds with recurring circle motifs, like full moons. This artist book can be considered an integral part of the series. Printed on a thick black card, the outer wrapper is deliberately sombre, while the designs revealed inside in shimmering red, silver and gold appear both ghostly and resplendent. The richness of the screenprint gives a solarised, textured quality to the images making them seem almost 3D in nature. A scarce, exquisitely produced piece of print by Sottsass.

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