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Bowl (USA)

This is a bowl. It was made by Otto Natzler. It is dated ca. 1950 and we acquired it in 2014. Its medium is wheel-thrown, glazed earthenware. It is a part of the Product Design and Decorative Arts department.

Otto and Gertrud Natzler were among the leading figures of the modern studio ceramics movement. Noted for their refined forms and intricate and colorful glazes, the Natzlers worked collaboratively until Gertrud’s death in 1971. Otto trained as a textile designer in Vienna and met Gertrud in 1933 while she was studying ceramics. In 1938, the couple emigrated from Austria to the United States with a potter’s wheel and a small kiln as their only belongings. They settled in Los Angeles, where they taught and worked in tandem on their ceramics to perfect their glazes and refine their forms, creating poetic objects of beauty and visual eloquence. Gertrud worked as the master potter while Otto experimented with glazes and elevated his mastery at the kiln. “Gertrud’s elegant forms echo the art nouveau elements of the Vienna Secessionist movement and are the epitome of weightless grace and refinement.”[1] Otto developed over 2,000 glazes, meticulously deciphering which glaze and texture to apply to each vessel.
This bowl is proposed for acquisition along with a Natzler pot and bowl. They are being offered by the granddaughter of the original owner, Friederich Rotter, who met the Natzlers in the 1930s through his Vienna-based home furnishings business and gallery, Der Wohnraum. Rotter and the Natzlers continued their friendship after both settled in the United States. The donor remembers seeing the pot and bowls in her grandparents’ apartment on East 86th Street in Manhattan when she was a child. These three objects were likely created by the Natzlers after their arrival in the United States, since Austrian refugees were not allowed to leave the country with many possessions or more than the equivalent of about $20.00 US dollars.
At the time of proposed acquisition, the museum holds three examples of the Natzlers' work in its collection. None of the pieces, however, have these particular glazes. The addition of these works would expand the museum's range of output from these ceramists, who were very important to the mid-20th century studio pottery movement in the United States.
[1] Kathy Zommerer, “Gertrud and Otto Natzler,” ArtScene, [2011],

This object was featured in our Object of the Week series in a post titled Bowled Over.

It is credited Gift of Elizabeth J. Kovacs.

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Its dimensions are

H x diam.: 17.6 x 8.6 cm (6 15/16 x 3 3/8 in.)

It has the following markings

"NATZLER" signed in black slip on underside of base.

Cite this object as

Bowl (USA); Made by Otto Natzler (American, b. Austria, 1908–2007); wheel-thrown, glazed earthenware; H x diam.: 17.6 x 8.6 cm (6 15/16 x 3 3/8 in.); Gift of Elizabeth J. Kovacs; 2014-6-2

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<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url= |title=Bowl (USA) |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=19 May 2022 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>