A key figure of the British studio pottery movement, Hans Coper's ceramics are distinctly dramatic and sculptural. His innovative experimentation left behind a transformative legacy of monumental vessels.
A Quick Look at Hans Coper
After moving to England, Coper became a founding member of the Digswell, Hertfordshire architectural group
He and Lucie Rie met while both working for a ceramic button shop
He taught in London at the Camberwell School of Arts and Crafts for ten years and at the Royal College of Art from 1966 until 1975
Hans Coper’s most exceptional works bring upwards of $100,000
I am a potter, but he is an artist.
My concern is with extracting essences rather than with experiment and exploration.
The wheel imposes its economy, dictates limits, provides momentum and continuity. Concentrating on continuous variations of simple themes I become part of the process; I am learning to operate a sensitive instrument which may be resonant to my experience of existence now – in this fantastic century.
Practising a craft with ambiguous references to purpose and function one has occasion to face absurdity. More than anything, like a demented piano-tuner, one is trying to approximate a phantom pitch. One is apt to take refuge in pseudo-principles which crumble. Still, the routine of works remains. One deals with facts.
Hans Coper Artist Statement
Auction Results Hans Coper
Pot with disc top
Tall bottle vase with disc top
Hans Coper 1920–1981
Hans Joachim Coper was one of the most influential ceramic artists of the British studio pottery movement. Working closely with fellow potter Lucie Rie, he redefined ceramic art with his sculptural forms.
Coper was born in Chemnitz, Germany in 1920. In 1939, he fled the Nazi regime and immigrated to the United Kingdom where he met Lucie Rie, also a refugee, but from Austria. Rie taught Coper how to make ceramics and starting in 1946 the two shared a workshop at the Albion Mews Pottery Company. Coper and Rie worked to create functional wares often co-signing their works. In 1951, the pair exhibited their ceramics at the Milan Triennale alongside the furniture and textile designs of Robin and Lucienne Day.
Later in the 1950s, the pair began to diverge in style; Rie continued to make traditional ceramic forms while Coper began experimenting with new techniques of glazing and creating dramatic and sculptural in scope. His ceramics are known for their distinctively roughly-textured surface and earth tones which he formed by rubbing oxides onto the surface of his vessels. During the 1960s, Coper taught at both the Camberwell School of Arts and Crafts and the Royal College of Art in London. In 1962 he was invited to create a set of ceramic candlesticks for St. Michael’s Church in Coventry.
In 1967, Coper established his own studio in Frome, Somerset. In the following years he worked on his Cycladic line which took inspiration from the minimalistic forms of the early civilization. Hans Coper died in 1981 leaving behind a transformative legacy of monumental vessels. In 1983, his work was honored with a retrospective at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts in Norwich, England.