Saturday, February 19, 2011

Hans Coper

A new post by Tony Clennell got me thinking about how much I love the work of Hans Coper, and how I have been influenced by him over the years. It is without question that Hans Coper is my favorite potter of all time. Perhaps because when I was a young guy of 24 years old, just beginning to make pots, I found a book with lots of his work in it and was hooked.

I call these pieces "Hourglass Vases" and the first one sits on Anne's dresser so I get to see it every day. It's a little under 12 inches tall, thrown in one piece. It has a titanium crystalline glaze and was fired in reduction to cone 10, 11, 12 -- somewhere around there. Both vases were multi fired with lots of grinding, spraying and cussing in between firings. I know how to place a darn or gosh for maximum effect.

This green one is from the same period, and about the same size. Both were made between 1994 and 1998, and both these images are from scans I just received back from ScanCafe. I must say that I like the quality of the work they do. I will make a post about my experience with them if anyone is interested.

In this case, the glaze was applied evenly by dipping, but the fire drew the pattern on the piece. Sort of like wood or soda firing, except with much less success. These glazes were so hard to do that I just stopped making them.

To me these pieces are about opening and closing and then opening again. If we really want to, we have the right to live our lives with an open heart. And that's what these are about for me. They are a technical challenge which makes them fun to make, and they are an aesthetic challenge because there are a lot of really bad forms lurking in there, and the strategy must be precise to get a good one.


John Bauman said...

Those are stunning. You have a knack for extremely strong shapes with the illusion of vague defining points.

You've achieved the ultimate in both transparent craftsmanship and communication by form only. The form says so much that there are hardly words for it.

In a world full of pottery with forms so weak there are only words trying in vain to reclaim them, your work is a shining example of the opposite -- and something to which a good potter might aspire.

nick friedman said...

I've never heard of Hans Cooper. But those forms......they will always be iconic "John Tilton forms" to me.

John Tilton said...

Hey Nick,

There are books written about the Cooper guy and he is very important in my book. I think it was the way he was able to organize space in such a unique way, and he also did only a very small number of surface treatments, all of which made his pots very strong. There was just no extra stuff in his presentation.

He worked for awhile with Lucie Rie, and their work is intertwined, not really similar. But for me it is hard to think of one without the other.