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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

Edmund de Waal: psalm

Edmund de Waal: psalm

The artist speaks about his two-part exhibition psalm, on view 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.

Before the Smoke Has Cleared

Before the Smoke Has Cleared

Angela Brown provides a glimpse into the charged ecologies of recent drawings and sculptures by Tatiana Trouvé. These works will be included in On the Eve of Never Leaving, Trouvé’s first solo exhibition in Los Angeles, opening in November 2019.

Richard Serra, Hands Scraping, 1968, film still.

The Art of Perception: Richard Serra’s Films

For eleven years, from 1968 to 1979, Richard Serra created a collection of films and videos that felt out the uncharted phenomenological boundaries of the medium. Carlos Valladares explores a selection of these works.

Sterling Ruby, ACTS/OSIRIS-REx, 2016 (detail).

Sterling Ruby: Disjointed Monuments to Nothing

Alessandro Rabottini investigates the theoretical and formal underpinnings of Sterling Ruby’s career through the lens of the artist’s series ACTS.

Nina Simone at the Globe Jazz festival at Symphony Hall, Boston, March 20, 1986.

Nina Simone, Our National Treasure

Text by Salamishah Tillet.