December 5, 2010  |  MoMA Stores
Tempest of a Teacup

Robert Lazzarini. Teacup. 2003

For this project, New York–based artist Robert Lazzarini‘s first experiment in “complex nonlinear distortion,” the artist composited attributes of different cups and saucers to arrive at an archetypal object. He first drew the cup and saucer using three-dimensional modeling software, and then he laser-scanned a well-proportioned spoon and fed the scan directly into his computer. He next applied multiple sine wave patterns along different axes through these virtual objects. You got all that?

After finishing the virtual modeling stage, Lazzarini created a series of rapid prototypes, reproducing the rendering in three-dimensional form. He then hand-finished the prototypes, smoothing the surfaces and sculpting a chip in the rim of the cup to suggest years of use. Designed to be viewed from all angles, Teacup is a playful visual anomaly that leaps out from among everyday items. Lazzarini has lived and worked in New York since the 1980s, and his early interest in art was encouraged by his grandfather—an art teacher—and others in his family, many of whom are members of the scientific community. His work often re-creates and then subverts everyday objects, confounding viewers’ expectations and challenging ideas of perception—and this work is certainly no exception.

Although challenging to drink from, this teacup can certainly be used! It’s available to the public in limited quantities, and all proceeds benefit MoMA PS1.