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Gagosian Quarterly

October 4, 2018

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.

Installation view, Edmund de Waal: the poems of our climate, Gagosian, San Francisco, September 20–December 8, 2018. Photo: Johnna Arnold

Installation view, Edmund de Waal: the poems of our climate, Gagosian, San Francisco, September 20–December 8, 2018. Photo: Johnna Arnold

Edmund de Waal

A potter since childhood and an acclaimed writer, Edmund de Waal is best known as an artist for his large-scale installations of porcelain vessels, which are informed by his passion for architecture, space, and sound.

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This new series of works takes poems and vessels and puts them near each other. For years I have been writing—in notebooks, on walls, in the margins of books—but here words and porcelain come closer together. For twenty years, installations have had names that echo parts of poems, signal affinities. But here I’m trying to come closer to what it feels like to remember a poem, to carry it with you through the decades, a phrase or image coming into your life and making the world feel denser with possibility. It is rarely a whole poem. Sometimes it is just a few words. I carried Emily Dickinson’s “blue and gold mistake” throughout my thirties, trying to make celadon pots as beautiful as the early Korean and Chinese vessels. Sometimes it is the feeling of the shape of a poem on a page, the movement between two lines, the hesitancies, caesura, or pauses. Poetry is involuntary. Rilke knew this. There is the fierce lyricism of his Sonnets to Orpheus:

. . . It will end.
True singing is a different breath, about
nothing. A gust inside the god. A wind.

Vitrines are a kind of page in themselves and shelves are lines, but I’m not mapping pots as words. I’m using the shadows that objects throw, using gold, silver, and platinum to create auras. I’ve rewritten poems that mean most to me into slivers of thin porcelain, and these appear in fragmentary form. Starting places.

the poems of our climate

Edmund de Waal, a different breath, 2018, 27 porcelain vessels and 17 porcelain tiles with platinum and silver gilding in 5 aluminum and glass vitrines, 107 ⅛ × 37 × 4 ¾ inches (271.9 × 94 × 12.1 cm). Photo: Mike Bruce

This exhibition’s title is stolen from Wallace Stevens. His seductions of the world and mind mean a huge amount to me. His poems are threaded by “a world of white,” a pull towards clarity and the knowledge of a falling short.

. . . The day itself
Is simplified: a bowl of white,
Cold, a cold porcelain, low and round.

Rilke and Dickinson are here too, and John Cage, whose sense of sound and graphic line and poem are a powerful presence.

There are memories and sounds and vessels and shards here.

Artwork © Edmund de Waal; Edmund de Waal: the poems of our climate, Gagosian, San Francisco, September 20–December 8, 2018

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.

–one way or other–

–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: 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.

Witness

Witness

A text by Edmund de Waal touches on the inspiration he finds in the work of Giorgio Morandi.

Edmund de Waal at Frieze London

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.

Sally Mann: Remembered Light

Sally Mann: Remembered Light

Edmund de Waal and Sally Mann discuss Cy Twombly’s relationship to photography, Mann’s pervasive interest in the American South, and the context behind her newest body of work.

Cover of the Winter 2019 Gagosian Quarterly, featuring a selection from a black-and-white Christopher Wool photograph

Now available
Gagosian Quarterly Winter 2019

The Winter 2019 issue of Gagosian Quarterly is now available, featuring a selection from Christopher Wool’s Westtexaspsychosculpture series on its cover.

Tatiana Trouvé, Between sky and earth, 2012–.

Tatiana Trouvé: In Time

In upstate New York, Jenny Jaskey discovers Tatiana Trouvé’s Between sky and earth. Begun in 2012, this multifaceted installation exists as a crucial nexus in the artist’s career, both a result of her ongoing practice and a generative source for continuing investigations.