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Otto Natzler


Gertrud Natzler


circa 1960

3.25 x 10.75 x 10.75 in.
Gift of the Nora Eccles Treadwell Foundation

Gertrud Natzler’s Bowl exhibits the elegant, thin-walled form that has been the envy of many potters. She worked in collaboration with her husband Otto, an engineer with a chemistry background, whom she met in Vienna, Austria. The rise of fascism in 1930s Europe led to the couple’s emigration to Los Angeles in 1938. Gertrud’s ability to throw pots with the delicate walls of Bowl led to a radical intervention in the world of Southern California ceramics. Her training on the potter’s wheel was a rare skill in the American West in the 1930s, and her proficiency garnered the interest of many prominent California potters, who learned her technique, which was widely disseminated through California’s academic ceramic programs.

The Natzlers produced some of the finest examples of California studio ceramics. In their collaboration, Gertrud threw the forms, and Otto’s background in chemistry proved invaluable for the development of glazes. They were central figures in elevating modernist ceramics to the status of fine art. Their partnership lasted three decades, until Gertrud’s untimely death in 1971. In his grief, Otto was unable to finish the pots Gertrud had left behind for many years, but in the following decades, he began a career as a modernist sculptor, working well into his nineties.

Matthew Limb

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