About the Artist

photo of Edmund de Waal

Edmund de Waal

De Waal was born in 1964 in Nottingham, and lives and works in London. His art and literature speak to his fascination with the nature of objects and the narratives of their collection and display. With his interventions and artworks, de Waal explores themes of diaspora, memorial, materiality, as well as the color white.  Through his written and artistic practice, he has broken new critical ground in the history and potential of ceramics, and in architecture, music, dance, and poetry. His recent museum exhibitions include responses to the Italian painter Giorgio Morandi (Artipelag, Stockholm, 2017); to the collection of the Kunsthistoriches Museum, Vienna, with a focus on the theme of anxiety (2016); and an architectural intervention made in response to the Viennese émigré modernist Rudolf Schindler (Schindler House, Los Angeles, 2018).

In addition to The Hare with Amber Eyes (2010), de Waal is also the author of The White Road: Journey into an Obsession (2015), a personal narrative about the history of porcelain. In collaboration with the Frick, he is a co-author, with Vignon, of a recently published volume in the Frick Diptych series. The publication focuses on a pair of porcelain candelabras with gilt-bronze mounts by Pierre Gouthière. In 2013, he gave a lecture in conjunction with the Frick Art Reference Library’s Center for the History of Collecting, and was the museum’s Autumn Dinner honoree in 2016.

De Waal is known for his installations of porcelain vessels housed in minimal structures, often created in response to collections and archives or the history of a specific place. Past sites have included Waddesdon Manor and Chatsworth House, in England. Elective Affinities marks his first such installation in the United States. The presentation, curated by Charlotte Vignon, Curator of Decorative Arts, is the latest in a series of collaborations with de Waal and The Frick Collection.