Lucie Rie - Design New York Wednesday, July 29, 2020 | Phillips

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  • Catalogue Essay

    The following eleven works by Lucie Rie and Hans Coper form part of the collection of the American journalist Claire Frankel. Residing with her husband the English editor William Frankel between London and Washington, D.C., where she worked as a freelance journalist, Frankel began collecting these works in the early 1980s. While writing for publications including The International Herald Tribune, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Economist, Financial Times, Art & Auction, and Art & Antiques, Frankel devoted several articles during the late 1980s and early 1990s to contemporary British ceramics, examining the growing interest and market for these works. Documenting current museum and gallery exhibitions in addition to the different philosophies of London’s commercial galleries and auction houses, Frankel stated in a 1993 article for The Financial Times, “It is indisputable that ceramics is an art medium no longer to be disparaged as ‘crafts’.”

    In The International Herald Tribune, Frankel wrote, “Lucie Rie, perhaps Britain’s greatest living potter, gently watches the burgeoning ceramic scene. At 88, she has a delicate frame, elfin grace and soft voice that provide a perfect, improbable counterpoint for her lively and sometimes steely intelligence and stunning output.” Although by the late 1960s Rie’s production primarily comprised individual works, Frankel acknowledged her straightforward commitment to making pottery that was intended for everyday use, describing Rie as an “unsentimental professional.” In an earlier article for Art & Auction, Frankel also noted the importance of Rie’s relationship with Hans Coper in reestablishing her career after immigrating to London in 1938, writing “It took her renowned pupil, the German-born Hans Coper, to convince Rie that her original work⎼her slender, graceful, paper-like forms⎼were distinctive and magnificent. He and Rie worked together, exhibited together and encouraged each other.” Their friendship is reflected in the present collection, which among Rie’s distinctive forms features Coper’s Ovoid pot with disc.

  • Artist Biography

    Lucie Rie

    Austrian • 1902 - 1995

    Dame Lucie Rie studied under Michael Powolny at the Kunstgewerbeschule in Vienna before immigrating to London in 1938. In London she started out making buttons for the fashion industry before producing austere, sparsely decorated tableware that caught the attention of modernist interior decorators. Eventually she hit her stride with the pitch-perfect footed bowls and flared vases for which she is best-known today. She worked in porcelain and stoneware, applying glaze directly to the unfired body and firing only once. She limited decoration to incised lines, subtle spirals and golden manganese lips, allowing the beauty of her thin-walled vessels to shine through. In contrast with the rustic pots of English ceramicist Bernard Leach, who is considered an heir to the Arts and Crafts movement, collectors and scholars revere Rie for creating pottery that was in dialogue with the design and architecture of European Modernism.

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Property from the Estate of Claire Frankel


Footed bowl

circa 1960
Porcelain, white and manganese glaze with sgraffito design.
8 1/4 in. (21 cm) diameter
Underside impressed with artist's seal.

$40,000 - 60,000 

Sold for $162,500

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New York Auction 29 July 2020