Hans Coper - Design & Design Art New York Thursday, December 13, 2007 | Phillips

Create your first list.

Select an existing list or create a new list to share and manage lots you follow.

  • Exhibited

     Lucie Rie: Hans Coper, Boymans Museum, Rotterdam, 1967

  • Literature

    Tony Birks, Hans Coper, Yeovil, 1991, illustrated pp. 148-149

  • Catalogue Essay

    ‘A pre-dynastic Egyptian pot… A humble, passive, somehow absurd object – yet potent, mysterious, sensuous. It conveys no comment, no self-expression, but seems to contain and reflect its maker and the human world it inhabits… It was not the cause for my making pots, but it gave me a glimpse of what man is.’ (Collingwood/Coper, exhibition catalogue, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 1969, p.7). With these words Hans Coper introduces his joint exhibition with the weaver Peter Collingwood in 1969.   This particular piece shows one of his first attempts to marry a massive spherical body with a flattened cylindrical shape, a combination of forms that he would revisit on a variety of scales throughout the rest of his career. It is one of the largest known examples of its type and is a highly successful combination of the ambitious scale and drama found in many of his earlier works with the highly refined surfaces and softer transitions between the individual component parts that is more frequently associated with the later pieces. 

  • Artist Biography

    Hans Coper

    German • 1920 - 1981

    Hans Coper learned his craft in the London studio of Lucie Rie, having emigrated from Germany as a young Jewish engineering student in 1939. He initially assisted Rie in the studio with the ceramic buttons she made for the fashion industry, as well as ceramic tableware, but soon Coper was producing his own work. By 1951 he had received considerable recognition exhibiting his pots in the "Festival of Britain." 


    Coper favored compound shapes that, while simple in appearance, were in fact complex in construction. Similar to the making of Joseon Dynasty Moon Jars (Rie in fact displayed a Moon Jar in the studio), he would build his vessels by bringing several thrown forms together, for example joining bowls rim to rim. Coper eschewed glazes and preferred the textured surfaces achieved through the application of white and black slips, evoking the abraded texture of excavated vessels. This interest in ancient objects was very much in step with other modernists of his time—Coper admired Constantin Brancusi and Alberto Giacometti and his textured markings have been compared to sculptors such as William Turnbull.


    In the last phase of his career, Coper reduced the scale of his work creating small "Cycladic" pots that stood on pedestals or drums, recalling the clay figures of Bronze Age Greece. 

    View More Works


Large composite form

ca. 1966
T-material, white slip over a textured body.
16 1/2 in. (42 cm) high
Impressed with artist’s seal.

$80,000 - 120,000 

Design & Design Art

13 Dec 2007, 2pm
New York