A ceramic vessel by Hans Coper © Jane Coper and Estate of the Artist

Open 17 Oct 2020 – 26 Sep 2021

Galleries 18 & 34

Admission was free

To mark the 100th anniversary of Hans Coper’s birth, the Ashmolean devoted a display to an exhibition of Coper’s ceramics made across his career. The exhibition included ceramics from the Museum’s own collection together with more than 30 loans from private collections.

Internationally renowned ceramic artist, Hans Coper (1920–1981), was an influential figure of the artistic diaspora in the UK. Born in Germany, Coper fled to London in 1939. He redefined the concept of studio pottery over a relatively short period of about thirty years. Using clay as his medium, he distinguished himself from the previous generation by fusing wheel-based pots together to great sculptural effect. With a limited palette of burnished black or creamy white, often with scored lines or etched surfaces, each pot has its own presence. Hans Coper’s pots draw on ancient traditions of sculpture and vessel making, while presenting an original artistic language characterised by a timeless aesthetic of simplicity.

His work was widely collected, commissioned and exhibited during his lifetime, ranging from monumental candlesticks for Coventry Cathedral, to a major show at the V&A Museum. He was also a leading figure in art education, teaching both at Camberwell College of Art and the Royal College of Art, where he is credited as being the primary influence to a whole generation of potters.

Curated by Charles Park, together with Matthew Winterbottom and Lena Fritsch.

Images © Jane Coper and Estate of the Artist


Xa Sturgis, Director of the Ashmolean Museum and Charlie Park, supporter of the Ashmolean, discuss the potter and artist Hans Coper, and the exhibition, in this short film.