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.
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.
–one way or other–
Edmund de Waal discusses his exhibition –one way or other– at the Schindler House in West Hollywood, CA.
Edmund de Waal: white island
Edmund de Waal considers Ibiza, Walter Benjamin, and the “aura of things” in a text entitled white island, written to accompany his first exhibition in Spain at the Museu d’Art Contemporani d’Eivissa, Ibiza.
A text by Edmund de Waal touches on the inspiration he finds in the work of Giorgio Morandi.
Edmund de Waal at Frieze London
In this video the artist walks us through his installation at Frieze London, speaking of how this new body of work reflects memories and recollections.
Taipei Dangdai 2020
January 17–19, 2020, booth E20
Taipei Nangang Exhibition Center
Gagosian is pleased to participate in Taipei Dangdai 2020, presenting works by Georg Baselitz, John Currin, Edmund de Waal, Urs Fischer, Katharina Grosse, Damien Hirst, Robert Indiana, John Mason, Takashi Murakami, Takashi Murakami & Virgil Abloh, Albert Oehlen, Nam June Paik, Steven Parrino, Richard Prince, Ed Ruscha, Spencer Sweeney, Tom Wesselmann, and Jonas Wood, among others.
John Currin, Young Woman on a Lounger, 2014 © John Currin
Art Basel Miami Beach 2019
December 5–8, 2019, booth D7
Miami Beach Convention Center
Gagosian is pleased to participate in Art Basel Miami Beach 2019 with modern and contemporary artworks by Richard Avedon, Georg Baselitz, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Joe Bradley, Cecily Brown, John Chamberlain, John Currin, Edmund de Waal, Rachel Feinstein, Urs Fischer, Helen Frankenthaler, Ellen Gallagher, Theaster Gates, Katharina Grosse, Mark Grotjahn, Jennifer Guidi, Simon Hantaï, Damien Hirst, Alex Israel and Bret Easton Ellis, Ellsworth Kelly, Jeff Koons, Roy Lichtenstein, Man Ray, Peter Marino, Adam McEwen, Joan Mitchell, Takashi Murakami, Albert Oehlen, Steven Parrino, Pablo Picasso, Rudolf Polanszky, Richard Prince, Sterling Ruby, Ed Ruscha, Richard Serra, Rudolf Stingel, Cy Twombly, Andy Warhol, Mary Weatherford, Tom Wesselmann, Jonas Wood, Christopher Wool, and Zao Wou-Ki, among others.
Tom Wesselmann, Sunset Nude with Wesselmann Still Life, 2004 © The Estate of Tom Wesselmann/Licensed by ARS/VAGA, New York
Edmund de Waal
Friday, November 8, 2019, 6:30–7:30pm
Frick Collection, New York
In conjunction with the exhibition Elective Affinities: Edmund de Waal at the Frick Collection, artist and writer Edmund de Waal will speak with Sally Mann about art and writing, and about the pair’s individual practices. The event has reached capacity. To join the wait list, RSVP to email@example.com.
Installation view, Elective Affinities: Edmund de Waal at the Frick Collection, Frick Collection, New York, May 30–November 17, 2019. Artwork © Edmund de Waal
Edmund de Waal
library of exile
Opened August 27, 2020
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
This Living Hand
Edmund de Waal Presents Henry Moore
March 31–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 sculptures 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.
Henry Moore holding the plaster maquette for his sculpture Reclining Figure: Hand (1976). Photo: Henry Moore Archive
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