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Bernard Leach (St Ives Artists series) [Illustrated] [Paperback]

Edmund de Waal
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

1 Jan 1998 St.Ives Artists
The St Ives Artists series explores the life and work of major artists associated with St Ives.


Product details

  • Paperback: 80 pages
  • Publisher: Tate Publishing; First Edition edition (1 Jan 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1854372270
  • ISBN-13: 978-1854372277
  • Product Dimensions: 17.1 x 24.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 628,744 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

Edmund de Waal describes himself as a 'potter who writes'. His porcelain has been displayed in many museum collections around the world and he has recently made a huge installation for the dome of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Edmund was apprenticed as a potter, studied in Japan, and read English Literature at Cambridge University. 'The Hare with Amber Eyes', a journey through the history of a family in objects, is his most personal book.
www.edmunddewaal.com

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Leach in the firing line 25 May 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
De Waal is now a super-star ceramic artist whose tiniest porcelain cylinders sell for thousands. . As a potter his work is very fashionable, if over-rated. However he writes well. Best known for the enchanting "Hare with Amber Eyes", his earlier work is less familiar.

This monograph on Bernard Leach, the grand old man and founding philosopher of the 20th century studio pottery movement in the UK, is both revealing and disappointing. De Waal pinpoints the obvious contradictions in Leach's life and work. Upholding the virtues of the "anonymous craftsman" on the one hand, Leach's own work was never anonymous, always high-priced, and aimed at galleries from the outset. As De Waal shows, much of the throwing of Leach's pots was done for him by others. His role was primarily that of decorator/artist/designer. His training had been in etching and graphics rather than clay, hence the designer aspect of his work, often better in the drawing than in the clay. His orientalism was in keeping with the style of his times, his dismissal of much traditional European pottery a blindspot.

De Waal's book is a useful guide and does much to demythologise a man who was the single most influential artist/potter of the 20th century. Many people hate this book for that very reason. But it is well written and informative, even if it leaves a nasty taste in the mouth.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.7 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A good Review of Leach's life with wonderful illustrations! 7 May 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
As I dove into Edmond De Waals book on bernard Leach, my interest was captured immediatley. Leach's early history and experiences in Japan were exciting. Even though I struggled with the pronunciation of Japanese names and places I found the historical accounts were well written. When reading this book I couldn't help but imagine myself making pots in Japan experiencing Japanese tradition, culture, and the arts.
I thought it was interesting to see the transition in Leach's work as he moved from Japan to St. Ives England. I like how Leach tried to gain local character in his work after moving to England. This is something that is important to the Japanese and their tradition of local potteries. Leach's ability to adapt to his environment while making pots made him successful as an artist. This book clearly shows the distinct adaptions Leach made to suit his clients needs without loosing his artistic touch.
I especially enjoyed the last chapter of this book. In my opinion it is an excellent summary of Leach's life and his accomplishments. I really like where the author talks about "Leach Style" and how people categorize it as "muddy colors, unarticulated forms, indeterminate orientel-ish burshwork and a certain modesty of ambition." I agree with the the author that Leach was more diverse than that. From 1920 and in to the 1960's he did everything from "drawing, engraving, etching, painting, slip-decorating, combed decoration into clay, sgraffitio, fluting and so on." In my opinion Leach is the father of modern day studio ceramics. This book is inspirational for anyone pursing the field of functional ceramics. I would recommend this book to anyone studying or enquiring of Bernard Leach.
7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Leach: Myth or Reality? 12 Aug 2001
By Steven Goldate - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
It is interesting that in today's day and age there are still so many people who would defend the Old Man (Leach) to the death. In doing some research on Bernard Leach, I cam across De Waal's publication. He offers a healthy, dissenting view to the norm that Leach contributed so much to today's pottery. Will Leach's devout followers also tell you that he hardly ever threw his own pots, but rather had them made for him to decorate? That he dismissed traditions with the flick of the wrist, that didn't fit into his concept of ceramics, such as those of France, Italy or Scandinavia? Or that he preached humility, but was himself quite an autocratic character? That he had an exhibition in Seoul, while it was under Imperial Japanese occupation? That many people thought (and still think) his work to be quite bland? That ceramic sculpture was as good as non-existent to him?
At least De Waal's book offers another view than that usually propogated by the 'Leach School of Thought'. I would say that it was quite an objective one, in contrast to the review by that reader from Sussex, England. Don't be fooled, unless you are a die-hard follower with a Leach altar in the corner of your studio, this is certainly a valuable book on Leach's lifes work. In contrast to that other review, I would also say that De Waal's book is not all critical. It takes you through Leach's various stages in life fairly objectively. Actually De Waal could have been much more critical (if not scathing) of some of Leach's idiosyncrasies.
13 of 21 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A poor, bitter book, with little feel for the master potter 27 July 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Having been a pottery student, who then found a niche in the pottery world, De Waal has chosen to write a bitter attack on the man who was solely responsible for the renaissance of the pottery movement in Britain at the early years of the century! There have been few books that so arbitrarily set out to mock the artistic talent of Bernard Leach, a clear-sighted Edwardian man, born in the Victorian era, and who was to live through further reigns of another three monarchs. The pottery of De Waal has little connection to that of what Leach was trying to achieve, and yet De Waal has managed to make a name for himself, with virtually no nod of head towards the man who he chose to follow initially.
His book lacks any sympathy, courage, or honesty. It bears no relation to the pottery world that Leach was promoting, instead his book seems to be nothing more than a catalogue of the latest fashions in the present domestic ceramic world. He has no taste, and his trite, simplistic pieces of moulded clay insult the great artistic legacy that Leach had initiated. But for Bernard Leach and Shoji Hamada, for instance, the method of "feathering" designs on slipware pottery would have been lost for another hundred plus years..
Do not waste your money on the De Waal book, instead, buy the book [by Sara Hogben] on The Art of Bernard Leach, which can be found via the net. A far superior book.
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