As We See It

The ‘Hitler Teapot’ isn’t the first time Michael Graves has baffled us

Before Michael Graves’ “Hitler Teapot” became a thing, he raised local eyebrows with this design.
Photo: Corlene Byrd

When the Internet spun out of control over a Michael Graves teapot depicted in a JCPenney ad that bears an uncanny resemblance to a cartoon Adolf Hitler, some of us here in Las Vegas just sort of nodded our heads.

Not over the resemblance—mustache, raised arm and swooping bangs—which is likely nothing more than a bizarre coincidence (far from any Charles Krafft-ism). We were simply familiar with folks being baffled by a Graves product.

The star architect—one of the famous New York Five architects—renovated and expanded the Clark County Library on Flamingo Road just off Maryland Parkway in the early ’90s. The result was one of his classical-meets-modernist buildings and sort of resembles a 3D model (or even one of his paintings), rather than an actual building fabricated with functional material.

Its flat salmon-colored exterior (sometimes confused for orange) was as perplexing for some as its clean texture and geometric forms, particularly within the context of the surrounding buildings. And so we watched as pedestrians examined the library, leaning forward to touch it as if trying to discern the material of this lovely, otherworldly (yet bizarrely staid) structure that—much like Red Rock Canyon—is illuminated by afternoon sun.

But eventually everyone in Vegas seemed to continue with their daily tasks, eyeing the building suspiciously but moving forward, probably never knowing of Graves, a man both blamed and celebrated for pushing postmodernist architecture. The same will likely apply to his Bells and Whistles stainless steel tea kettle—$40 at JCPenney.

Tags: Culture, Opinion
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Kristen Peterson

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