metamorphosen, I

Edmund de Waal (1964 - )

12 porcelain vessels, 3 tin boxes, 5 Cor-Ten steel pieces and 1 porcelain shard in an aluminium, wood and plexiglass vitrine

2017

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© Edmund de Waal. Courtesy the artist. / Image: Mike Bruce

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  • About the work
    Location
    Country: Austria
    City: Vienna
    Place: British Embassy
    metamorphosen I, on loan to the British Embassy, Vienna, is a ‘black work’ by the British artist, potter and writer, Edmund de Waal. Arranged on six shelves in a glass vitrine are dark-glazed porcelain vessels and shards, pieces of dark lead, Cor-Ten steel, graphite, oxidised silver and black marble. Two time periods influenced de Waal’s ‘black works’. In 1938, the Ephrussis, an established Viennese Jewish family persecuted by the Nazis, were forced to flee the city, abandoning their ancestral home. A descendant of the family, de Waal spent years in Vienna researching his family history, culminating in his acclaimed memoir, The Hare with Amber Eyes (2010). In 2016, Vienna’s Kunsthistorisches Museum invited de Waal to curate an exhibition based on its collection. For During the Night, he created a large vitrine of black materials, echoing the show’s themes of anxiety and fear of the unknown.

    The title of de Waal’s sculpture references Metamorphosen, a score for 23 strings composed by Richard Strauss at the close of the Second World War. Strauss was inspired by Goethe’s work, On the Metamorphosis of Plants (1790), celebrating rebirth and transformation. Alluding to music, the sculpture’s blocks of non-ceramic materials create rhythmic intervals in the work, described by de Waal as, '… moments of pause or recollections of loss'.

    In 2019, over 80 years after the Ephrussi family fled Vienna, the Austrian government announced that descendants of those victimised by the Nazis, could reclaim their citizenship. For de Waal’s father, this was a moment of great poignancy.
  • About the artist

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    Places
    Subjects
    Materials & Techniques
    aluminium, steel, porcelain, wood, wall sculpture, vitrine
  • Details
    Title
    metamorphosen, I
    Date
    2017
    Medium
    12 porcelain vessels, 3 tin boxes, 5 Cor-Ten steel pieces and 1 porcelain shard in an aluminium, wood and plexiglass vitrine
    Dimensions
    height: 170 cm, width: 100 cm, depth: 13.5 cm
    Acquisition
    Presented by the artist, June 2021
    GAC number
    19013