Lucie Rie Modernist Potter Emmanuel Cooper

Publication date:
15 May 2012
Paul Mellon Centre
344 pages: 235 x 159mm
40 color + 70 b-w illus.
Sales territories:

Lucie Rie (1902-1995), one of the twentieth 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. It is illustrated with copious photographs of her friends and family as well as images of her fine pots. The author has been given unrestricted access by the Rie estate to previously unpublished letters and other material, which provide fascinating new insights into her life and work and have allowed him to reevaluate Rie's creative output within the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.

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Read a review by Hare with the Amber Eyes author Edmund de Waal in the Guardian.

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 Bernard Leach (Yale University Press, 2003). Emmanuel Cooper died in January 2012 shortly after completing this book.

“It is a magnificent achievement, as much a testament to his scholarship as her craft.” Keith Richmond, Tribune

"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

"With its lucid explanations of processes and humorous anecdotes…this biography is an enlightening and enthralling read." Alison Oldham, Ham & High

"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