Four Things to Know
about Gertrud and Otto Natzler
Otto invented over 2,000 glazes, recording each one meticulously in several hand-written volumes and together he and Gertrud created over 25,000 works.
While a virtuoso in executing and exploring the subtle dimensions of form, Gertrud's works are notable in that they often contain detectable fingerprints, adding to their intimacy.
The first kiln used by the Natzlers, retired in 1982, is held in the collection of the Smithsonian Institution.
Gertrud died in 1971, leaving 200 unglazed pieces. Otto wasn't able to work with them until a few years later, when we began creating ceramics alone for the first time. Of this he said “I could never get close to what she did...her pots are ethereal, flowing, graceful. They practically float. Mine are geometric, earthbound, massive.”
The really perfect pot has not yet been made and probably never will be. Yet we reach for perfection, and, if we are fortunate, the next pot we make may come closer to our visions. If it does, we shall be grateful. Which somehow sums up our credo.
Gertrud and Otto Natzler’s graceful forms with exquisite glazes stand among the most admired ceramic works of the 20th century. Gertrud skillfully threw the clay, shaping organically inspired vessels with thin walls while Otto performed feats of alchemy exploring various firing techniques and glaze recipes to develop signature finishes. Throughout their prolific career, spanning close to forty years, the vibrant duo strove for perfection.
Gertrud and Otto met in Vienna in 1933 when they were both twenty-five. Otto was working as a textile designer and Gertrud was a secretary, though Otto had originally been committed to being a violinist and Gertrud had attended a business and secretarial school, the Handelsakademie. Both were interested in ceramics and the two studied in the workshop of Franz Iskra in Vienna before opening their own workshop in 1935. Their work received early recognition and they were rewarded the Silver Medal at the World Exposition Paris in 1937. They married in 1938 and fled Austria for Los Angeles, where they continued their robust creative partnership for nearly forty years.
Gertrud passed away in 1971 and Otto returned to creating work in 1973, continuing until his death in 2007. Their bold artistic legacy lives on in such prestigious collections as the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Victoria and Albert Museum, London and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, among others.
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