Exhibitions
Current exhibition

psalm

To coincide with the 58th Venice Biennale
8 May – 29 September 2019

Edmund De Waal Ghetto Map Psalm Exhibition At Venice Biennale

A major two-part exhibition in the Jewish Museum and the Ateneo Veneto, Venice.

A major two-part exhibition in the Jewish Museum and the Ateneo Veneto, Venice.

New installations of porcelain, marble and gold will reflect the literary and musical heritage of this extraordinary place. The intention is to animate spaces that are little known and little understood by visitors to the Biennale and to bring new audiences into the Ghetto.

The second part of the work will be a pavilion based at the Ateneo Veneto, the fifteenth-century building near the Fenice Opera House that has been an historic centre for cultural debate in Venice. Here, de Waal is constructing a small building within the main space that will house 2,000 books by exiled writers, from Ovid to the present day.

All the books will be in translation, reflecting the idea of language as migration. Four vitrines of porcelain vessels, based on Daniel Bomberg’s famous Renaissance printing of the Talmud, will hang on the walls amongst the books. The structure itself will have an exterior coated with porcelain, laid over gold leaf, into which de Waal will inscribe the names of the lost libraries of the world. Inside there will be spaces to sit and read. It will be a place of contemplation and a place of dialogue.

Throughout the Biennale there will be a rich programme of events, performances, readings, conversations and debate. The intention is to bring the experiences of contemporary writers in exile into focus and to celebrate the works in translation. There will also be events that focus on the cultures of Jewish Venice, on the Psalms, on contemporary poetry and on publishing.

Edmund de Waal said: “This is the project I have always dreamed of doing. It is about exile - what it means to have to move to another country, to speak another language. It brings new installations based on the Psalms, the poetry of exile, into some of the most beautiful spaces of the Ghetto, the first time some of these spaces have been used for contemporary art. And my library for the Ateneo - two thousand books within a porcelain-covered pavilion - will be the most significant sculpture of my life. It will be a new library reflecting Venice’s thousand years as a place of translation, a space to sit and read and be.”

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Current exhibition

Elective Affinities

The Frick Collection, New York
30 May – 17 November 2019

West Vestibule View 01

Temporary installation of new work at The Frick Collection, its first ever exhibition of a contemporary artist in the permanent galleries.

Temporary installation of new work at The Frick Collection, its first ever exhibition of a contemporary artist in the permanent galleries.

For this unique opportunity, de Waal has created a series of site-specific sculptures made of porcelain, steel, gold, marble and glass in response to particular rooms and objects in the collection. These works are displayed in the museum's main galleries alongside works from the permanent collection.

To coincide with the exhibition, the museum will publish the third volume of its Frick Diptych series, pairing an essay by curator Charlotte Vignon with a text by de Waal. Together they will offer fresh insight into a pair of porcelain candelabra by Pierre Gouthière, the French eighteenth-century chaser and gilder.

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Forthcoming exhibition

a sort of speech

Galerie Max Hetzler, Berlin
28 September–2 November 2019

Edmund De Waal At Galerie Max Hetzler Ash Needle Pencil Match 01

In this new body of work, on show across both locations of Galerie Max Hetzler, Berlin, Edmund de Waal continues to explore the boundaries between text and sculpture.

In this new body of work, on show across both locations of Galerie Max Hetzler, Berlin, Edmund de Waal continues to explore the boundaries between text and sculpture.


The exhibition contains a major new text work in which de Waal has covered a huge freestanding wall with porcelain slip and gold leaf into which he has written a long text on the work of Robert Walser.

Walser’s adoption of an obsessive form of notation – his “pencil method” – has long had great significance for the artist. It was a way for Walser to explore the immersive qualities of writing. De Waal has taken this idea and worked on creating a series of sculptures where text has been inscribed into thin porcelain fragments which are then leant, stacked like pages of a notebook.

De Waal writes in his accompanying essay,

“So here is my work. It is a series of detours.

It is a detour through the work of Robert Walser. I love his writings. I love the way he wrote, the way he took apart his accomplishments and made texts. I love his understanding of making as a way of marking time.

Text can be sculpture, sculpture a sort of speech.”

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Forthcoming exhibition

The Ephrussis. Travel in Time.

Jewish Museum, Vienna

6 November 2019–8 March 2020

Hare Netsuke C 1880

The Ephrussi Family Archive, donated to the Jewish Museum by the de Waal family, will go on display in this special exhibition along with 157 netsuke from Edmund de Waal's collection.