Trapezoidal Open Disk

  • Otto Natzler, Trapezoidal Open Disk, 1986, earthenware with olive and sang de boeuf glaze, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of an anonymous donor, 1987.71

Otto Natzler began his career in pottery with his wife and collaborator, Gertrud Natzler. The pair created textured, classical forms, which Gertrud threw on the wheel and Otto glazed. After Gertrud’s death in 1971, Otto felt he could not create thrown pieces on his own, so he turned to hand-building, making unusually shaped sculptures like Trapezoidal Open Disk, instead. Natzler used a technique known as reduction firing, combining several organic materials and chemicals that limit the creation of oxygen when they burn. This resulted in a variety of colors and surface textures, like the fissures (hairline cracks) on the surface of this piece. In addition, Trapezoidal Open Disk was glazed multiple times. Sang glaze, commonly referred to as sang de boeuf or oxblood for its deep red hue, peeks through the olive color in several places, most noticeably along the base.

One of the forms I felt quite intrigued with is a fragmented cube, or fragmented tetragon. I didn’t think of it until one day, when in making a form, I ran out of clay. I had some scraps left, and they happened to be of different thickness. It occurred to me to put them together, and there was the fragmented cube.” The artist, Oral History, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution
Trapezoidal Open Disk
11 149 342 34 in. (28.724.87.0 cm.)
Credit Line

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Gift of an anonymous donor

Mediums Description
earthenware with olive and sang de boeuf glaze
Object Number
Linked Open Data
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