1960s KUNSTTÖPFEREI UNTERSTAB STUDIO POTTERY VASE (GDR)
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A beautifully formed stoneware studio pottery vase from KUNSTTÖPFEREI UNTERSTAB (KTU) with a characteristic crawling, blue-on-white, fat lava glaze. Slices of white are carved lightly into the body towards the base.
KUNSTTÖPFEREI UNTERSTAB (Unterstab Art Pottery), aka KTU, was a ceramic studio founded in the tiny district town of Langenhessen in Saxony in the former GDR by husband and wife Ralf and Gudrun Unterstab in the early 1960s. As is typical of most of the smaller East German workshops, hardly anything is known about its operations or the personages involved. A remarkable exception is the fact that Gudrun (b. 1940) was the daughter of the potter Albert Kiessling (1906–1964) who set up his own studio in Langenhesssen in 1954 and who is much celebrated today for his "snakeskin" glazes. Husband Ralf (b. 1937) remains a mystery.
Whatever the division of labor may have actually been, conventional wisdom holds that Ralf was the modeler and Gudrun the glazer. But it should be noted that this opinion rests solely on the similarity between some of KTU's glazes and those developed by Gudrun's father. The couple's work has fancifully been attributed on occasion to one "Kerstin Unterstab"—perhaps owing to the appearance of the initials "KTU" on the base of some pieces—but such a person never existed, at least not in connection with the studio.
Maker – KUNSTTÖPFEREI UNTERSTAB
Production Period – 1960s
Designer – RALF & GUDRUN UNTERSTAB
Design Period – 1960s
Origin – EAST GERMANY
Styles/Movements – MID-CENTURY MODERN
Materials – STONEWARE
Colors – BLUE
Condition – Excellent vintage condition. No damage. May show signs of previous use.
Dimensions – 4 ½" DIAM. × 11" H