Gertrud Natzler and her husband Otto Natzler created some of the most admired ceramic objects of the 20th century during their 37-year relationship. Gertrud was the potter whose thin, gently curving shapes made for exquisitely fragile and simple vessels. Otto added the glazes – more than 1,000 different ones that he developed himself. The two together helped elevate ceramics from a decorative art to a fine art.
During the summer of 1933 Gertrud Amon met Otto Natzler, who was “very stricken by Trude,” her nickname. When Gertrud told him of her interest in clay, he feigned a similar interest just to be with her. He soon discovered that “Gertrud had a feeling for form right from the very beginning.” The two rented a studio together. At first Otto did the sculptures, but he soon recognized Gertrud’s talent. From then on she did the sculptures, and he did the glazing.
In 1937, the couple submitted a few of their pieces to the Austrian pavilion at the Paris International Exhibition and won a silver medal. As German troops poured into Austria in 1938, the Natzlers left Vienna for the United States, taking along Gertrud’s potting wheel and their electric kiln. The Natzlers settled in Los Angeles and exhibited their work successfully. They brought with them a unique tradition in ceramics that had not been seen before in the United States.
Gertrud’s ability to capture lift in a vessel resulted in graceful, finely balanced, and well-proportioned pieces that lent themselves to the popular modern furniture of the time. In 1940, they had their first solo exhibition at a small museum in San Diego and later on exhibited at Chicago’s Art Institute.
Their works were featured in numerous gallery shows and are housed in dozens of museum collections, including LACMA, the Metropolitan Museum, MoMA, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.