A Modernist Potter (1920-1981)
Coper was an influential modernist ceramist. Originally born in
Germany, Coper migrated to England in 1939. Coper's work was of
a 'continental' sensibility - it had little or nothing to do with
Leach's 'Sung Standard'. Coper was concerned less with the revival
of Chinese or Korean rural expression, but rather with - as he wrote
- "extracting essence" from pottery. This may be interpreted
as a desire to make conceptual work, albeit still based on the vessel,
rather than functional pottery. Thus we find strong sculptural elements
in his work.
Coper's distinctive pots are thrown, altered and assembled. The
rough stoneware surface has been rubbed with oxides, often with
manganese. (It has been said that Coper died of manganese poisoning,
but this has been disputed).
Coper was a contemporary and colleague of another great British
emigré potter, Lucy Rie (1902-1995), having worked with her for
13 years after WWII. Although their styles differ markedly, both
of these influential artists shared a common sensitivity rooted
in their appreciation of urban architecture and modern design. Although
there is no 'Coper School' as such, many contemporary ceramists
have been influenced by Coper's (and Rie's) work, notably Roseline
Delisle, Wouter Dam or Gwynn Hanssen Pigott.
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