Lucie Rie

Modernist Potter

Emmanuel Cooper

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Lucie Rie (1902-1995), one of the 20th century's most celebrated and iconic potters, combined an acute understanding of modernism with the skills of her chosen craft. During the course of her sixty-year career, she continually honed and refined her work, developing new shapes and surface effects that were distinctly her own. Her delicately shaped bowls, bottles, and other vessels reflect her commitment to simplicity and clarity of form, earning her both critical and popular acclaim.

This comprehensive biography follows Rie's life and artistic development from her birth into the Austria of the Habsburgs to her studies at the progressive Kunstgewerbeschule in Vienna, and finally her years in Britain following her escape in 1938 from Nazi-controlled Austria. Emmanuel Cooper, a distinguished potter who knew Rie, interviewed many of her friends and acquaintances to produce this complete and detailed account of Rie's life and work. The author has been given unrestricted access by the Rie estate to previously unpublished letters and other material, which provide fascinating new insights into her life and work and have allowed him to reevaluate Rie's creative output within the broader context of modernism and the emergence of the studio pottery movement in Britain.

Emmanuel Cooper was a distinguished potter, writer, curator, and broadcaster. The founder and editor of Ceramic Review, he was also visiting professor at the Royal College of Art, London. He was the author of, among other books,  Bernard Leach (Yale University Press, 2003). Emmanuel Cooper died in January 2012, shortly after completing Lucie Rie..

“this captivating biography…offers a perceptive analysis of Rie’s understated modernist ceramics.”—Apollo Magazine

“…this new biography is riveting…intimate knowledge of the potter’s art, combined with the generosity of his historical sweep, makes it unlikely that this biography of Rie will ever be surpassed.”—Frances Spalding, Literary Review

""A precious gift, from the only man who could of written it. Cooper's contributions to British ceramic history have been as broadly generous as Rie's were concentrated. For this, we should all be grateful."—Glenn Adamson, Crafts Magazine

"[Lucie Rie: Modernist Potter] provides detailed descriptions of Rie’s technical and artistic practice – Cooper, who died shortly after completing this book, was himself a fine potter – and illustrates them with colour plates of her wonderful pots."—London Review of Books

"It is a magnificent achievement, as much a testament to his scholarship as her craft."—Keith Richmond, Tribune
ISBN: 9780300152005
Publication Date: July 24, 2012
Publishing Partner: Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art
344 pages, 6 1/4 x 9 1/4
40 color + 70 b/w illus.
Bernard Leach

Life and Work

Emmanuel Cooper

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