cover image Edmund de Waal

Edmund de Waal

Edmund de Waal. Phaidon, $100 (240p) ISBN 978-0-7148-6703-8

This stunning monograph, the first collecting the work of artist and writer de Waal, features insightful essays by journalist Emma Crichton-Miller, novelists Colm To%C3%ADb%C3%ADn, Peter Carey, and A.S. Byatt, curator Alexandra Munroe, architect Deborah Saunt, and the artist himself. Although these writings assiduously illuminate how the master potter explores ideas in both prose and porcelain, nothing expresses the idea that "a pot, beyond being a vase, might express a thought" better than the stunning photographs of de Waal's work. Whether presented in the blank space of the gallery, installed like treasures in ornate hallways, or displayed in site-specific structures, the rows of imperfectly hand-crafted ceramics evoke a raft of associations, among them the trappings of domesticity; the pleasure of taxonomy; the musical and religious resonance of repetition; and the sentence itself, with different parts of speech separated into distinct vessels of clay. The work of the poet, Paul Celan writes, is to "measur[e] off the area of the given and the possible." The book itself functions like a poem, measuring off de Waal's work from the world it lives in, and finding in that partitioning the boundless potential of a simple pot. 250 color illus. (Apr.)