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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

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.

Andy Warhol: Everything Is Good

Andy Warhol: Everything Is Good

Richard Hell writes about the “transcendentally camp” Pop artist, portraitist of daily life.

Roy Lichtenstein: 1961 to 1965

Roy Lichtenstein: 1961 to 1965

Gillian Pistell examines Roy Lichtenstein’s aesthetic developments in the years 1961 to 1965.

Time by Dance by Paik

Time by Dance by Paik

Gillian Jakab considers the role of choreography in Nam June Paik’s 1989 video installation Fin de Siècle II.

View of the south front of Kenwood House.

Kenwood House

Anna Eavis, the curatorial director of English Heritage, traces the history of Kenwood House and details the remarkable collection of paintings that reside there.

Uncharted Territory

Uncharted Territory

For the 16th International Architecture Biennale in Venice, the architectural firm Caruso St John teamed up with artist Marcus Taylor to curate the British Pavilion. Their design, Island, offers a profound adjustment of public space at a moment of profound geopolitical change. James Lawrence considers its implications.