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Edmund de Waal

Edmund de Waal, breathturn, I, 2013 476 porcelain vessels in aluminum and plexiglass cabinet, 90 ½ × 118 ⅛ × 4 inches (229.7 × 300 × 10 cm)© Edmund de Waal. Photo: Mike Bruce

Edmund de Waal, breathturn, I, 2013

476 porcelain vessels in aluminum and plexiglass cabinet, 90 ½ × 118 ⅛ × 4 inches (229.7 × 300 × 10 cm)
© Edmund de Waal. Photo: Mike Bruce

Edmund de Waal, atmosphere, 2014 286 porcelain vessels in 9 aluminum and plexiglass vitrines, each: 11 ⅞ × 118 ⅛ × 9 ⅞ inches (30 × 300 × 25 cm)Installation view, Turner Contemporary, Margate, England© Edmund de Waal. Photo: Mike Bruce

Edmund de Waal, atmosphere, 2014

286 porcelain vessels in 9 aluminum and plexiglass vitrines, each: 11 ⅞ × 118 ⅛ × 9 ⅞ inches (30 × 300 × 25 cm)
Installation view, Turner Contemporary, Margate, England
© Edmund de Waal. Photo: Mike Bruce

Edmund de Waal, the ten thousand things, for John Cage, XX, 2015 3 porcelain vessels and Cor-Ten steel block in aluminum box, 17 ¾ × 17 ¾ × 7 ½ inches (45 × 45 × 19 cm)© Edmund de Waal

Edmund de Waal, the ten thousand things, for John Cage, XX, 2015

3 porcelain vessels and Cor-Ten steel block in aluminum box, 17 ¾ × 17 ¾ × 7 ½ inches (45 × 45 × 19 cm)
© Edmund de Waal

Edmund de Waal, the reader, 2016 56 porcelain vessels, 13 alabaster blocks, and 5 Cor-Ten steel blocks in aluminum, wood, and plexiglass vitrine, 84 ¼ × 102 ⅜ × 5 ⅜ inches (214 × 260 × 13.5 cm)Installation view, Artipelag, Gustavsberg, Sweden, 2017© Edmund de Waal

Edmund de Waal, the reader, 2016

56 porcelain vessels, 13 alabaster blocks, and 5 Cor-Ten steel blocks in aluminum, wood, and plexiglass vitrine, 84 ¼ × 102 ⅜ × 5 ⅜ inches (214 × 260 × 13.5 cm)
Installation view, Artipelag, Gustavsberg, Sweden, 2017
© Edmund de Waal

Edmund de Waal, during the night, 2016 55 porcelain vessels, porcelain shards, tin boxes, lead shot, lead, and Cor-Ten steel elements in plexiglass and aluminum vitrine, 84 ¼ × 102 ⅜ × 5 ½ inches (214 × 260 × 14 cm)© Edmund de Waal

Edmund de Waal, during the night, 2016

55 porcelain vessels, porcelain shards, tin boxes, lead shot, lead, and Cor-Ten steel elements in plexiglass and aluminum vitrine, 84 ¼ × 102 ⅜ × 5 ½ inches (214 × 260 × 14 cm)
© Edmund de Waal

Edmund de Waal, during the night, 2016 (detail) 55 porcelain vessels, porcelain shards, tin boxes, lead shot, lead, and Cor-Ten steel elements in plexiglass and aluminum vitrine, 84 ¼ × 102 ⅜ × 5 ½ inches (214 × 260 × 14 cm)© Edmund de Waal

Edmund de Waal, during the night, 2016 (detail)

55 porcelain vessels, porcelain shards, tin boxes, lead shot, lead, and Cor-Ten steel elements in plexiglass and aluminum vitrine, 84 ¼ × 102 ⅜ × 5 ½ inches (214 × 260 × 14 cm)
© Edmund de Waal

Edmund de Waal, music in thirteen parts, 2017 11 porcelain vessels and 2 alabaster blocks in aluminum and plexiglass vitrine, 23 ⅝ × 55 ⅛ × 11 ⅞ inches (60 × 140 × 30 cm)© Edmund de Waal. Photo: Mike Bruce

Edmund de Waal, music in thirteen parts, 2017

11 porcelain vessels and 2 alabaster blocks in aluminum and plexiglass vitrine, 23 ⅝ × 55 ⅛ × 11 ⅞ inches (60 × 140 × 30 cm)
© Edmund de Waal. Photo: Mike Bruce

Edmund de Waal, that pause of space, 2019 8 porcelain vessels, 6 porcelain tiles with gold leaf, and alabaster block with gold leaf, in gilded aluminum and plexiglass vitrine, 22 ⅞ × 30 × 11 inches (58 × 76 × 28 cm)© Edmund de Waal

Edmund de Waal, that pause of space, 2019

8 porcelain vessels, 6 porcelain tiles with gold leaf, and alabaster block with gold leaf, in gilded aluminum and plexiglass vitrine, 22 ⅞ × 30 × 11 inches (58 × 76 × 28 cm)
© Edmund de Waal

Edmund de Waal, no speaking is left in me, 2013 14 porcelain vessels on an aluminum girder, 12 3/16 × 39 ⅜ × 9 9/16 inches (31 × 100 × 24.3 cm)© Edmund de Waal

Edmund de Waal, no speaking is left in me, 2013

14 porcelain vessels on an aluminum girder, 12 3/16 × 39 ⅜ × 9 9/16 inches (31 × 100 × 24.3 cm)
© Edmund de Waal

Edmund de Waal, the first day and the first hour, 2013 26 porcelain vessels in 7 wood, aluminum, and glass vitrines, 15 ¾ × 66 ⅝ × 6 11/16 inches (40 × 169.2 × 17 cm)© Edmund de Waal

Edmund de Waal, the first day and the first hour, 2013

26 porcelain vessels in 7 wood, aluminum, and glass vitrines, 15 ¾ × 66 ⅝ × 6 11/16 inches (40 × 169.2 × 17 cm)
© Edmund de Waal

Edmund de Waal, Eisenach, 2013 36 porcelain vessels in 12 wood, aluminum, and glass vitrines, 15 ¾ × 171 ⅝ × 6 11/16 inches (40 × 436 × 17 cm)© Edmund de Waal

Edmund de Waal, Eisenach, 2013

36 porcelain vessels in 12 wood, aluminum, and glass vitrines, 15 ¾ × 171 ⅝ × 6 11/16 inches (40 × 436 × 17 cm)
© Edmund de Waal

Edmund de Waal, thirteen, 2013 26 porcelain vessels on 13 aluminum brackets, Each: 6 × 3 × 3 inches (15.5 × 8 × 8 cm)© Edmund de Waal

Edmund de Waal, thirteen, 2013

26 porcelain vessels on 13 aluminum brackets, Each: 6 × 3 × 3 inches (15.5 × 8 × 8 cm)
© Edmund de Waal

Edmund de Waal, there is a land called Lost, 2013 52 porcelain vessels in 3 wood, aluminum, and plexiglass vitrines, Each: 13 ¾ × 51 ¼ × 10 ¼ inches (35 × 130 × 25.5 cm)© Edmund de Waal

Edmund de Waal, there is a land called Lost, 2013

52 porcelain vessels in 3 wood, aluminum, and plexiglass vitrines, Each: 13 ¾ × 51 ¼ × 10 ¼ inches (35 × 130 × 25.5 cm)
© Edmund de Waal

About

I’ve always loved the idea of the mutability of things. . . . Nothing is forever. . . . There’s an inherent instability about how objects work in space.
—Edmund de Waal

In his visual art and literary works, Edmund de Waal uses objects as vehicles for human narrative, emotion, and history. His installations of handmade porcelain vessels, often contained in minimalist structures, investigate themes of diaspora, memory, and materiality.

Born in Nottingham, England, de Waal apprenticed with the renowned potter Geoffrey Whiting from 1981 to 1983, an experience that catalyzed his interest in bridging Chinese and Japanese ceramic traditions with medieval English techniques. De Waal went on to receive a BA in English literature from the University of Cambridge in 1986, followed in 1991 by a Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation scholarship, which he used to obtain a postgraduate diploma in Japanese language from the University of Sheffield and to study at the Mejiro Ceramics studio in Tokyo. While in Japan he began writing a monograph on Bernard Leach, the “father” of British studio pottery.

Upon returning to London in 1993, de Waal shifted his focus from stoneware to porcelain and began to experiment with arrangements of objects, such as teapots, bottles, and jugs. Groupings or “cargoes” of irregular porcelain vessels would become central to his work, fluctuating in scale and breadth over the years. One of de Waal’s first major architectural interventions came in 2002 with The Porcelain Room at the Geffrye Museum (now the Museum of the Home), London, in which he arranged 650 vessels on shelves and within cavities in the floor and ceiling of a chamber illuminated by a porcelain window.

Thinking of the crafting and placement of ceramic vessels as a form of poetry, de Waal has continued to transform spaces with his objects. Signs & Wonders (2009) at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, saw 425 glazed porcelain vessels positioned on a red shelf along the inner ledge of the museum’s uppermost cupola—a love letter of sorts to the museum’s collection and a celebration of its new ceramics galleries. In 2019, the exhibition elective affinities juxtaposed de Waal’s vessels with illustrious works from the Frick Collection, New York.

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Edmund de Waal, stone for two hands and water, 2021, Hornton stone, bamboo, and water, 27 ⅜ × 56 ¾ × 23 ⅝ inches (69.5 × 144 × 60 cm), installation view, Henry Moore Studios & Gardens, Perry Green, England

The Thinking Hand

Edmund de Waal speaks with Richard Calvocoressi about touch in relation to art and our understanding of the world, and discusses the new stone sculptures he created for the exhibition This Living Hand: Edmund de Waal Presents Henry Moore, at the Henry Moore Studios & Gardens. Their conversation took place at the Fitzwilliam Museum, University of Cambridge, in the context of the exhibition The Human Touch.

Edmund de Waal and Theaster Gates

Artist to Artist: Edmund de Waal and Theaster Gates

Join the artists for an extended conversation about their most recent exhibitions, their forebears in the world of ceramics, and the key role that history plays in their practices.

Installation view, Edmund de Waal: some winter pots, Gagosian, Davies Street

Edmund de Waal: some winter pots

Join the artist in his ceramics studio as he describes the impetus behind his exhibition in London and the importance of touch in the creation of these new works.

Edmund de Waal working in his studio.

Edmund de Waal: cold mountain clay

At his studio in London, Edmund de Waal speaks about his new body of work, created in the silence and solitude of lockdown. Composed of layers of porcelain slip inscribed with lines of verse by the poet Hanshan, these works are presented in cold mountain clay, de Waal’s first exhibition in Hong Kong.

Edmund de Waal, London, 2019

Edmund de Waal: psalm

Edmund de Waal speaks with Alison McDonald about the components of psalm, his two-part project in Venice. He details the influences behind the exhibition and reveals some of his hopes for the project.

Rainer Maria Rilke, 1928. Photo: Lou Andreas-Salomé

Rainer Maria Rilke: Duino Elegies

Bobbie Sheng explores the symbiotic relationship between the poet and visual artists of his time and tracks the enduring influence of his poetry on artists working today.

Anselm Kiefer, Volkszählung (Census), 1991, steel, lead, glass, peas, and photographs, 163 ⅜ × 224 ½ × 315 inches (4.1 × 5.7 × 8 m)/

Cast of Characters

James Lawrence explores how contemporary artists have grappled with the subject of the library.

Sally Mann and Edmund de Waal at the Frick Collection, New York, November 8, 2019.

In Conversation
Edmund de Waal and Sally Mann

Sally Mann joins Edmund de Waal onstage at the Frick Collection in New York to converse about art, writing, and the importance of place in their respective bodies of work. 

Edmund de Waal and Jan Dalley, FT Weekend Festival, London, September 7, 2019

In Conversation
Edmund de Waal and Jan Dalley

At the FT Weekend Festival 2019 in London, Edmund de Waal sat down for a conversation with Financial Times arts editor Jan Dalley. They spoke about the relationship between words and sculpture in his practice, and about two recent projects: the two-part exhibition psalm, in Venice, and Elective Affinities, at the Frick Collection, New York.

Edmund de Waal: psalm

Edmund de Waal: psalm

The artist speaks about his two-part exhibition psalm, presented in Venice. He describes its connection to the history of the city and to notions of exile, and the profound cultural wealth that comes from migration.

Gagosian Quarterly Summer 2019

Now available
Gagosian Quarterly Summer 2019

The Summer 2019 issue of Gagosian Quarterly is now available, featuring a detail from Afrylic by Ellen Gallagher on its cover.

Edmund de Waal and Simon Fisher Turner: Tapping the World

In Conversation
Edmund de Waal and Simon Fisher Turner: Tapping the World

Edmund de Waal speaks with the composer Simon Fisher Turner about their collaboration on the exhibition –one way or other– at the Schindler House in West Hollywood, California.

Fairs, Events & Announcements

Installation view, The Hare with Amber Eyes, Jewish Museum, New York, November 19, 2021–May 15, 2022. Photo: Iwan Baan

In Conversation

Edmund de Waal
Sandee Brawarsky

Thursday, April 7, 2022, 6:30pm EDT

In conjunction with the exhibition The Hare with Amber Eyes, on view at the Jewish Museum, New York, through May 15, 2022, Edmund de Waal will be in conversation with journalist and author Sandee Brawarsky as part of the James L. Weinberg Distinguished Lecture series. The pair will discuss de Waal’s recently published writings and their intricate mappings of objects and stories, as well as the exhibition and his ceramic installations that investigate themes of history, memory, identity, exile, and displacement. To join the online event, register at thejewishmuseum.org.

Installation view, The Hare with Amber Eyes, Jewish Museum, New York, November 19, 2021–May 15, 2022. Photo: Iwan Baan

Edmund de Waal, Einmal, 2020 © Edmund de Waal

Auction

Warburg Renaissance

Friday, March 4, 2022
Phillips, London
www.phillips.com

As part of Phillips’s 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale, donated works by artists including Edmund de Waal, Anselm Kiefer, and Gerhard Richter will be offered in support of the Warburg Renaissance, a project to enhance the Warburg Institute’s facilities and programming. Proceeds will help fund the completion of the Institute’s renovation and expansion, led by Stirling Prize–winning architecture firm Haworth Tompkins, as well as provide support for new exhibitions, residencies, and commissions for contemporary artists, writers, and thinkers. The artworks are viewable at 30 Berkeley Square in London from February 23 to March 3.

Edmund de Waal, Einmal, 2020 © Edmund de Waal

Left: Edmund de Waal. Photo: Tom Jamieson. Center: Ange Mlinko. Right: Don Paterson. Photo: Geraint Lewis/Shutterstock

In Conversation

Edmund de Waal, Ange Mlinko, and Don Paterson on Rainer Maria Rilke

Wednesday, February 23, 2022, 2pm est (7pm BST)

From February 2 to 23, 1922, poet Rainer Maria Rilke wrote the Sonnets to Orpheus and completed the Duino Elegies in less than three weeks, a period he described as a “savage creative storm.” As part of the London Review Bookshop’s “That Year Again” series, a program of special events marking some of 2022’s many significant centenaries, Edmund de Waal will join poets Ange Mlinko and Don Paterson in a discussion about Rilke and intense productivity, a century after the conclusion of his “creative storm.” To attend the online event, purchase tickets at eventbrite.co.uk.

Left: Edmund de Waal. Photo: Tom Jamieson. Center: Ange Mlinko. Right: Don Paterson. Photo: Geraint Lewis/Shutterstock

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Museum Exhibitions

Edmund de Waal, the night office, 2022, installation view, Waddesdon Manor, Aylesbury, England, June 15–October 30, 2022 © Edmund de Waal. Photo: Chris Lacey

On View

Edmund de Waal
we live here, forever taking leave

Through October 30, 2022
Waddesdon Manor, Aylesbury, England
waddesdon.org.uk

This exhibition showcases new and celebrated works in porcelain by Edmund de Waal. Powerfully thoughtful, the installations explore the interconnected relations between faith, history, displacement, learning, and archives—themes that feel more relevant than ever and that are woven into Waddesdon Manor’s own fabric and existence.

Edmund de Waal, the night office, 2022, installation view, Waddesdon Manor, Aylesbury, England, June 15–October 30, 2022 © Edmund de Waal. Photo: Chris Lacey

Edmund de Waal, muet I, II, and III, all 2021, installation view, Musée Nissim de Camondo, Paris © Edmund de Waal. Photo: Christophe Dellière © MAD, Paris

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Edmund de Waal
Lettres à Camondo

October 7, 2021–May 15, 2022
Musée Nissim de Camondo, Paris
madparis.fr

This exhibition, titled in French after Edmund de Waal’s recently published book Letters to Camondo, is designed as an intimate dialogue between de Waal’s works and the historic furnishings held in the Musée Nissim de Camondo, former residence of Count Moïse de Camondo, whose family’s tragic history is recounted in de Waal’s epistolary novel. De Waal presents new installations made especially for the museum’s rooms and collections, which have remained unaltered since 1936.

Edmund de Waal, muet I, II, and III, all 2021, installation view, Musée Nissim de Camondo, Paris © Edmund de Waal. Photo: Christophe Dellière © MAD, Paris

Installation view, The Hare with Amber Eyes, Jewish Museum, New York, November 19, 2021–May 15, 2022. Photo: Iwan Baan

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The Hare with Amber Eyes

November 19, 2021–May 15, 2022
Jewish Museum, New York
thejewishmuseum.org

The Hare with Amber Eyes tells the story of the Ephrussi family, celebrated in the best-selling memoir of the same name by Edmund de Waal, and showcases the breadth and depth of their illustrious collection. The exhibition explores the family’s rise to prominence and splendor in the first half of the nineteenth century, the life of the prolific collector and historian of art Charles Ephrussi (1849–1905), the interwar years, and finally World War II, when the family lost its fortune and collection to Nazi looting.

Installation view, The Hare with Amber Eyes, Jewish Museum, New York, November 19, 2021–May 15, 2022. Photo: Iwan Baan

Installation view, This Living Hand: Edmund de Waal Presents Henry Moore, Henry Moore Studios & Gardens, Perry Green, England, May 19–October 31, 2021. Artwork, left and right: © Edmund de Waal; center left and center right: reproduced by permission of the Henry Moore Foundation. Photo: Alzbeta Jaresova

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This Living Hand
Edmund de Waal Presents Henry Moore

May 19–October 31, 2021
Henry Moore Studios & Gardens, Perry Green, England
www.henry-moore.org

Curated by Edmund de Waal, this exhibition explores the role of touch and the iconography of the hand in Henry Moore’s art. Moore believed that “tactile experience is very important as an aesthetic dimension in sculpture.” Original carved benches by de Waal, as well as a group of Moore’s drawings and sculptural works charting his interest in the hand as a subject, are included.

Installation view, This Living Hand: Edmund de Waal Presents Henry Moore, Henry Moore Studios & Gardens, Perry Green, England, May 19–October 31, 2021. Artwork, left and right: © Edmund de Waal; center left and center right: reproduced by permission of the Henry Moore Foundation. Photo: Alzbeta Jaresova

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Press

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