Natzler, Otto and Gertrud
Otto Natzler (January 31, 1908 – April 7, 2007) was an Austrian–born ceramicist. With his Gertrud Natzler, he produced what were considered some of the most admired ceramic pieces of the 20th century.
The son of Dr. Sigmund Natzler, a dentist, and a stay-at-home mother Regina Frieda Lowy, Natzler was born in Vienna, Austria and first exposed to art by his uncle. He began his working life at the age of 15 by taking a textile design course and subsequently finding employment devising colour schemes at a local necktie factory, a company that was blacklisted in Nazi Germany and shut down in 1933.
Natzler's first wife was Bertha Steinmetz whom he married on November 9, 1930 in Vienna, Austria. Naztler met his second wife and partner, secretary Gertrud Amon, in 1933, although their romance did not blossom until after he divorced his first wife in 1934. Though they were self-taught, by 1937 they had already begun to submit pieces, winning a silver medal at the Paris Exposition in 1937.
1938 marked the beginning of the Naztlers' serious commitment to their craft. After winning the silver medal on March 11 of that year, the couple married in June and fled Vienna for Los Angeles in September, with the help of Otto's cousin. From 1938 to 1971, the year of Gertrud's death, the duo produced an increasingly notable body of work, with Gertrud as the potter and Otto as the glazer. Gertrud's forms were reminiscent of the Vienna Secessionist movement, while Otto perfected over 2,000 colours and styles of glazes. In 1999, Modernism Magazine declared that the Natzlers' work was "among the finest pottery of all time."
Gertrud died in 1971 and Otto married photographer Gail Reynolds in 1973. Otto initially refused to glaze the last set of pots that Gertrud had thrown, but Reynolds soon convinced him to return to his work. After being described as "vital and active" from a rigorous exercise program well into his 90s, Natzler succumbed to cancer in Los Angeles at the age of 99. (source Wikipedia).
Gertrud Amon Natzler (7 July 1908 – 3 June 1971) was an Austrian-American ceramicist, who together with her husband Otto Natzler created some of the most praised ceramics art of the 20th century, helping to elevate ceramics to the status of a fine art.
Gertrud Amon was born on 7 July 1908 in Vienna, Austria to a Jewish family. She was the daughter of Adolf Amon, who ran a stationery company, and Helene née Grünwald. She had one older brother, Hans. After graduating from the Handelsakademie, Vienna's commercial school, she studied painting and drawing as well as working as a secretary. In 1933 met Otto Natzler, who had been laid off from a job as a textile designer, although their romance did not blossom until after he divorced his first wife in 1934. Career
Gertrud started to have an interest in pottery, and got Otto interested as well. After teaching themselves and studying at the ceramics studio of Franz Iskra, they opened their own studio and worked full-time as ceramicists. Otto and Gertrud soon became recognised for their art. Their first exhibition was in 1937, at the Galerie Würthle. On 11 March 1938, they learned that their works exhibited at the Exposition Internationale des Arts et Techniques dans la Vie Moderne had been awarded a silver medal. Later the same day, German troops marched into Austria, precipitating the annexation of Austria by Nazi Germany. They immediately began preparing to leave for the United States, with the help of Otto's cousin in Los Angeles. They married in June, and left Austria for Los Angeles in September.
The Natzlers started a new studio in Los Angeles, where she remained for the rest of her life. At first, they used a wheel and kiln brought from Vienna, and they made a living by offering individual instruction at their studio as well as selling their work. Recognition of the Natzlers' work in the United States began in 1939, when they won first prize at the Ceramic National. Their first full exhibition was in San Diego the following year, and it was followed by many more over the three decades thereafter. Between 1956 and 1960, the Natzlers were summer artists-in-residence at the Brandeis Institute.
For the most part, Gertrud worked as a potter and Otto as a glazer. Gertrud was remarkable from their Vienna days for throwing thin-walled vessels. From her early days in California, she was recognised for her skill at creating forms of "delicacy" by potters such as Harrison McIntosh. New York Times critic Lisa Hammel remarked in 1986 that her work was "always in equilibrium…Even the most violent glazes are held in a state of restraint by Gertrud's thin, gently curving shapes". Over her career, she threw more than 25,000 vessels.
Later life and legacy
Gertrud Natzler died of cancer on 3 June 1971, leaving behind hundreds of unfinished pieces. Otto abandoned his work for over a year after her death, but as soon as he was able to, he began the process of firing and glazing them. These pieces continued to garner new and retrospective exhibitions. Among the prominent museums to hold retrospectives of the Natzlers' work were the Renwick Gallery in Washington, D.C. (1973), the Craft and Folk Art Museum in Los Angeles (1977), and the American Craft Museum in New York (1993). In 1994, two exhibitions of her work were held in Vienna, one at the Historical Museum of the City of Vienna, and one at the Jewish Museum Vienna. In 2001, Gertrud was posthumously awarded the Gold Medal for Consummate Craftsmanship of the American Craft Council together with her husband. Otto also eventually started a career as a solo artist, that lasted nearly until his death in 2007 (source Wikipedia).
Pictures: Gertrud and Otto Natzler (source craftscouncel.org); Gertrud Natzler at the wheel (source Grave and Gold); blue bowl (source Venice Clay Artists); two yellow bowls (source Blouin Artinfo).