Edmund de Waal
The Temptation of Christ on the Mountain, I, 2019
Porcelain, steel, gold, alabaster, aluminum, and plexiglass
© Edmund de Waal. Courtesy the artist and The Frick Collection. Photo: Christopher Burke
This is one of my favorite paintings in the Frick. It's Duccio, The Temptation of Christ on the Mountain. And there's Christ standing on this extraordinary craggy landscape with these great cities of the world below him, around him. He's casting the devil aside. This is my kind of reliquary really; it's steel and leaning gold, leaning pieces of golden porcelain. And then these porcelain vessels, which are sort of people, abstracted, and they exist in the space.
It's just trying to make the sacred work really. It's a kind of meditation on what an icon is. An icon is an interesting thing. It’s an image which bears repeated viewing, so I'm trying to make my own version of an icon. And if you do see this, as with many of these installations at the Frick, I'm dealing with aura. Aura is obviously reflected light. Here, I've hidden leaning golden porcelain, sort of in the crook of this piece of steel. So there's a kind of golden glow, which washes across the whole piece. These are some of my favorite gold ground paintings in the world. So it's dealing with gold, dealing with the sacred. It is a powerful thing to try and do.