Carwan Gallery presents a much-anticipated new commission by Paris-based designer Robert Stadler this September, inside Philip Johnson’s signature Glass House pavilion in New Canaan, Connecticut. More than two years in the making, Robert Stadler’s OMG-GMO project is a series of whimsical ceramic functional objects created in a tripartite collaboration between the designer, the gallery, and leading Italian manufacturer BITOSSI Ceramiche. The project will later travel to Europe, for an exhibition at Carwan’s flagship space in Greece, in March 2023.
Known for his diverse work — which includes industrial design, installation, curation, and performance — Austrian-born designer Robert Stadler has been engaging with current issues in a critical and intellectual way throughout his decades- long career. For his special commission from Carwan Gallery, the designer offers a witty comment on the relationship between humans and their environment, as seen through the genetic manipulation of fruit and vegetables. Spotless yellow bananas, fleshy avocados, leeks, carrots, and many other staples of our shopping baskets are transformed into humorous functional objects, in what is perhaps the designer’s most playful work to date.
The history of representing fruitage and other produce in art and design is probably as long as the history of art itself. From ancient vessels shaped as their contents, to fanciful Arcimboldo paintings and Renaissance still lifes featuring cornucopias of food, the relationship between produce and aesthetics has been very strong, and persists to this day. In dialogue with this tradition, Robert Stadler’s OMG-GMO highlights the artificiality of the tame fruit and vegetables we cultivate and consume, highlighting the fact that their current form is the result of a very long process of agricultural domestication, selective breeding, and bioengineering. Patiently “designed” over thousands of years, farming products such as tomatoes, bananas, aubergines, and many more have little resemblance to their wild, undomesticated relatives. In more recent years, this engineering has become even more extreme, incorporating genetic modification and sophisticated cultivation techniques that give fruit and vegetables of almost artificial perfection and symmetry — such as square watermelons, straight cucumbers, seedless oranges, calibrated cherries, white strawberries, and more.
For the OMG-GMO project, Robert Stadler borrows the forms of these engineered fruit and vegetables to create nine ceramic, hand-painted objects that ironically transform the organic into something structural and functional. Conceived as a series of small-scale monuments, these objects both criticise and mock human manipulation of nature: a slice of a Japanese rectangular seedless watermelon becomes a stool, zucchini bend in a perfect L shape to create a set of shelves, and wheel-like aubergines support a glass coffee table, as a reference to Gae Aulenti’s Tavolo con ruote. Each object transforms a fruit or vegetable in a functional and clever way, with the master ceramicists at BITOSSI copying in detail their colour and texture.
OMG-GMO is being presented at The Glass House as part of a survey exhibition dedicated to Robert Stadler’s oeuvre. The OMG-GMO objects will be presented as an installation inside the Glass House pavilion itself, transforming the iconic modernist landmark into a greenhouse for alien-looking fruit and vegetables, in contrast with the natural landscape around it. Many other pieces from the designer’s entire career will be installed across the museum’s grounds. OMG-GMO is sold exclusively via Carwan Gallery.
The Glass House, 199 Elm Street New Canaan, CT 06840
For further info visit: https://theglasshouse.org/visit/