Edmund de Waal’s art and literature speak to his enduring fascination with the nature of objects and the narratives of their collection and display. A potter since childhood and an acclaimed writer, de Waal has a long-held obsession with porcelain, or “white gold.” This fascination has led to encounters with many people and places that have helped deepen his understanding of the nature of the material. De Waal is best known for his large-scale installations of porcelain vessels, which have been exhibited in many museums around the world. Much of his recent work has been concerned with ideas of collecting and collections, and how objects are kept together, lost, stolen, and dispersed. His work comes out of a dialogue between Minimalism, architecture, and sound and is informed by his passion for literature.
De Waal was born in 1964 in Nottingham, England. He received a BA Honors in English literature in 1983 from the University of Cambridge, England, and a postgraduate diploma in Japanese language in 1992 from the University of Sheffield, England. De Waal was a senior research fellow in ceramics at the University of Westminster, London, in 2002. Recent solo museum exhibitions include Ceramic Rooms, Geffrye Museum, London (2001); New Art Centre, Roche Court, England (2004); Arcanum, National Museum Cardiff, Wales (2005); Vessel, perhaps, Millgate Museum, Newark, England (2006); Kettle’s Yard, University of Cambridge, and Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art, England (2007); Signs and Wonders, Victoria and Albert Museum, London (2009); Night Work, New Art Centre, Roche Court, England (2010); Waddesdon Manor, England (2012); On White: Porcelain Stories from the Fitzwilliam, Fitzwilliam Museum, University of Cambridge, England (2013); Another Hour, Southwark Cathedral, London (2014); Atmosphere, Turner Contemporary, Margate, England (2014); Lichtzwang, Theseus Temple, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna (2014); The lost and the found: work from Orkney, New Art Centre, Roche Court, England (2015); and white: a project by Edmund de Waal, Royal Academy of Arts, London. His work has been shown and collected by museums throughout the world, including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Museum of Arts and Design, New York; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Museum Angewandte Kunst, Frankfurt; National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh; and Victoria and Albert Museum, London. In 2016 de Waal curated During the Night at the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna.
De Waal’s acclaimed memoir The Hare with Amber Eyes was the winner of the Costa Biography Award and the RSL Ondaatje Prize. In 2015 de Waal was awarded the prestigious Windham-Campbell Prize for nonfiction by Yale University. His latest book, The White Road: Journey into an Obsession, was published in November 2015.
De Waal lives and works in London.
Extended through January 30, 2021
Edmund de Waal
some winter pots
December 3, 2020–January 30, 2021
Davies Street, London
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.
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: 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: 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: 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.
Cast of Characters
James Lawrence explores how contemporary artists have grappled with the subject of the library.
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
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
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
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
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.
the poems of our climate
Edmund de Waal reflects on memory, sound, and the presence of poetry in a new body of work on view at Gagosian, San Francisco.
Edmund de Waal
Thursday, May 20, 2021, 6:30pm EDT
Join the Jewish Museum, New York, for a conversation between Edmund de Waal and author Adam Gopnik to celebrate the US launch of de Waal’s new book Letters to Camondo. The pair will discuss the book’s themes, including assimilation, art, and the essence of memory. Letters to Camondo consists of a series of haunting letters de Waal wrote to Count Moïse de Camondo—the owner of a Parisian palace turned into a memorial for his son lost in the First World War, now known as the Musée Nissim de Camondo. The Camondo family lived in Paris a few doors away from de Waal’s forebears, the Ephrussis. Both families were collectors and part of belle epoque society; both were also targets of anti-Semitism. To attend the event, register at thejewishmuseum.org.
Edmund de Waal: Letters to Camondo (London: Penguin Random House, 2021)
Edmund de Waal
Tuesday, April 20, 2021, 2pm EDT
Edmund de Waal will speak with Olivier Gabet, director of the Musée des Arts Décoratifs and the Musée Nissim de Camondo, Paris, about the themes explored in his new book, Letters to Camondo—to be released in the United Kingdom on April 22—including assimilation, art, and the essence of memory. The book consists of a series of haunting letters de Waal wrote to Count Moïse de Camondo—the owner of a Parisian palace turned into a memorial for his son lost in the First World War, now known as the Musée Nissim de Camondo. The Camondo family lived in Paris a few doors away from de Waal’s forebears, the Ephrussis. Both families were collectors and part of belle epoque society; both were also targets of anti-Semitism. To attend the event, purchase tickets at www.vam.ac.uk.
Edmund de Waal. Photo: Tom Jamieson
FIAC Online 2021
March 2–12, 2021
Gagosian is pleased to present Printemps oublié for the first online edition of FIAC. This curated presentation reflects the dual character of springtime as a reminder of past trials and the harbinger of a vibrant new season to come.
All the artworks will appear on the Gagosian website and a rotating selection will appear in the inaugural FIAC Online Viewing Rooms, from March 4 to 7.
Jeff Koons, Bluebird Planter, 2010–16 © Jeff Koons
Opening this Week
This Living Hand
Edmund de Waal Presents Henry Moore
May 19–October 31, 2021
Henry Moore Studios & Gardens, Perry Green, England
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
Edmund de Waal
library of exile
August 27, 2020–January 12, 2021
British Museum, London
Edmund de Waal has constructed a small library that houses two thousand books written by exiled authors from Ovid’s time to the present day. The external walls of the library are inscribed with a new text piece listing the lost and erased libraries of the world. Inside, embedded in the bookshelves, is a quartet of de Waal’s large-scale vitrines, containing porcelain vessels and page-like brackets of steel. This exhibition originated at the Ateneo Veneto in Venice.
Edmund de Waal, library of exile, 2019–20, installation view, Ateneo Veneto, Venice © Edmund de Waal. Photo: Fulvio Orsenigo
Edmund de Waal
library of exile
November 30, 2019–February 16, 2020
Japanisches Palais, Dresden, Germany
Edmund de Waal has constructed a small library that houses two thousand books written by exiled authors from Ovid’s time to the present day. The external walls of the library are inscribed with a new text piece listing the lost and erased libraries of the world. Inside, embedded in the bookshelves, is a quartet of de Waal’s large-scale vitrines, containing porcelain vessels and page-like brackets of steel. This exhibition has traveled from the Ateneo Veneto in Venice.
Edmund de Waal, library of exile, 2019, installation view, Edmund de Waal: psalm, Ateneo Veneto, Venice. Artwork © Edmund de Waal
Edmund de Waal at the Frick Collection
May 30–November 17, 2019
Frick Collection, New York
The Frick Collection presents an installation of Edmund de Waal’s site-specific works made of porcelain, steel, gold, marble, and glass that are displayed alongside works from the permanent collection.
Installation view, Elective Affinities: Edmund de Waal at the Frick Collection, Frick Collection, New York, May 30–November 17, 2019. Artwork © Edmund de Waal. Photo: Christopher Burke