In the autumn of 2024, world-renown ceramist and author Edmund de Waal will curate his own exhibition at Kunstilo in conjunction with showing works by Danish ceramics master Axel Salto. This exhibition will first open in Denmark in the autumn of 2023 before it travels on to Kunstsilo in 2024 and then makes its final stop in England in 2025.
Playing with Fire: Edmund de Waal and Axel Salto
CLAY Museum of Ceramic Art Denmark, 8 October 2023 – 11 August 2024.
Kunstsilo, September 2024
The Hepworth Wakefield, West Yorkshire, 2025
Edmund de Waal (born in 1964) is an internationally acclaimed artist and author who is best known for his large-scale installations of porcelain vessels. His productions are often created in response to events connected to a particular place in which the origin and identity of the porcelain plays a key role in them. De Waal is also known for his best-selling books that explore his family’s rich and fascinating history.
Axel Salto (1889-1961) was a radical and knowledgeable figure who crossed boundaries from one discipline to another, producing an extraordinary body of ceramic works. He played an integral part in the “Danish Modern” design and art movement and he achieved cult status among design enthusiasts, art collectors and museums around the world. Even decades after his death, Salto’s works are still considered extraordinary.
According to Edmund de Waal, “Axel Salto is one of the greatest artists of the twentieth century. He created a unique body of ceramic work that continues to fascinate me. His sculptures seem to be on the point of change: glazes are caught in flux. Vases swell as if to burst. He cared about the ways that patterns change course, shift energies, how an animal becomes a person, a man metamorphoses into a stag. Ovid ran powerfully through his life. That moment of change, transformation, is the moment when poetry occurs.”
The exhibition Playing with Fire: Edmund de Waal and Axel Salto consists of several of Salto’s main ceramic works from both the Tangen Collection as well as the CLAY Museum of Ceramic Art Denmark’s collection. In addition, several of his lesser-known works on paper, illustrations, writings, and textiles will be shown. A new major installation by de Waal that reflects upon Salto’s enduring influence will occupy a central place in the exhibition.
The exhibition is the result of an international collaboration between Edmund de Waal, the CLAY Museum of Ceramic Art Denmark and the Hepworth Wakefield in West Yorkshire, UK. It is being made possible through funding by the AKO Foundation, UK. The exhibition design is being done in collaboration with Hutchison Kivotos Architects, London.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a richly illustrated book that explores the dialogue between the two artists, published by Forlaget PRESS. The book will contain a wide range of excerpts from Salto’s extensive writings, an interview with de Waal, as well as an essay in which de Waal investigates the concept of metamorphosis and the fusing of clay and words.
Born in 1964 in Nottingham, UK. He lives and works in London.
Edmund de Waal is an internationally acclaimed artist and author who is best known for his large-scale installation of porcelain vessels which are often created in response to collections and archives or the history of a particular place. He has made interventions for diverse spaces and museums worldwide including the Museé Nissim de Camondo in Paris, the British Museum in London, the Frick Collection in New York, the Scuola Canton Synagogue in Venice, the Schindler House in Los Angeles, the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, and the V&A Museum in London. De Waal is also known for his best-selling family memoir The Hare with Amber Eyes (2010) and The White Road (2015). His newest book Letters to Camondo (2021) consists of a series of haunting letters written during the pandemic. He was awarded the Windham-Campbell Literature Prize for Non-Fiction by Yale University in 2015. In 2021, he was appointed as a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for his service to the arts.
Born 1889 in Copenhagen, died 1961 in Copenhagen.
Axel Salto received his education as an artist from the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts from 1909 to 1914. He was a versatile artist who worked as a designer, editor, and author. He founded the avant-garde magazine Klingen, which was published between 1917 and 1920. His ceramics career began in the 1920s when he designed porcelain vases and bowls for Danish producer B&G. Starting in 1929, he was associated with the stoneware studio at the Royal Danish Porcelain Factory.
Salto had many separate exhibitions in Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and France. He was awarded the Grand Prix at the World Expo in Paris in 1937 and at the Milan Triennial in 1951. In 1961, he was awarded a Gold Medal at an international ceramics exhibition at the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Ostend, Belgium. In the 1950s, his ceramics and textiles played an important role in promoting Danish design and craftmanship, known as Danish Modernism, in North America.