Josef SUDEK, Ladislav Sutnar cups and saucers Enlarge 1 /1


Czechoslovakia 1896 – Czechoslavakia 1976

Ladislav Sutnar cups and saucers (c.1930) Materials & Technique: photographs, gelatin silver photograph

Primary Insc: RMG.780.12
Dimensions: printed image 24.6 h x 17.8 w cm sheet 24.8 h x 18.6 w cm
Acknowledgement: Purchased 1983
Accession No: NGA 83.3165

Everything around us, dead or alive, in the eyes of a crazy photographer mysteriously takes on many variations, so that a seemingly dead object comes to life through light or by its surrounding. And if the photographer has a bit of sense in his head maybe he is able to capture some of this – and I suppose that's lyricism.
Josef Sudek

From the late 1920s through to the mid 1930s Sudek was employed by the Druzstevni prace (DP) publishing house and artists' cooperative. Sudek worked with Ladislav Sutnar, the DP's art director and designer of some of the company's best-selling glassware, porcelain dinner sets and tableware. Czechoslovakia has a long and justly famous history of glass and pottery production which designers like Sutnar continued into the 20th century. Sutnar's designs reflected a new way of living that was being promoted across the world in the 1930s and which called for the elimination of ornament: objects were required to be functional, yet simple and harmonious.

It was necessary for design to be standardised for mass production by machines. As critic Paul Makovsky has said of the collaborative work of Sudek and Sutnar: 'their work exemplified a new optimism about the ability of artists and designers to bring art into everyday life'.

Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra