Magazine article The Spectator

'Edmund De Waal', by A.S. Byatt, Colm Tóibín, Peter Carey, Emma Crichton-Miller and Others - Review

Magazine article The Spectator

'Edmund De Waal', by A.S. Byatt, Colm Tóibín, Peter Carey, Emma Crichton-Miller and Others - Review

Article excerpt

Edmund de Waal A.S. Byatt, Colm Tóibín, Peter Carey, Emma Crichton-Miller and others

Phaidon, pp.271, £59.95, ISBN: 9780714867038

For Edmund de Waal a ceramic pot has a 'real life' that goes beyond functionalism.This handsome book (designed by Atelier Dyakova) at the mid-point of his career, raises the question: 'How good an artist is he?'

It is discursive, comprising essays by A.S. Byatt and Alexandra Munroe, short stories by Colm Tóibín and Peter Carey, an elegant photographic essay by Toby Glanville, a look at de Waal's life to date by Emma Crichton-Miller and a piece by the man himself.

'I am a potter who writes,' de Waal said in a 2000 article in the Ceramic Review , although since then his book The Hare with Amber Eyes has carried his celebrity round the world. Is he a domestic potter or is he now making for museums and galleries? Does he make pots, or installations? Can he do both?

Pottery was described by Herbert Read in The Meaning of Art as 'the simplest and the most difficult of all the arts. It is the simplest because it is the most elemental; it is the most difficult because it is the most abstract. …

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