Hans Coper

Hans Joachim Coper was one of the most influential ceramic artists of the British studio pottery movement. Working closely with fellow potter Lucie Rie, he redefined ceramic art with his sculptural forms.

Coper was born in Chemnitz, Germany in 1920. In 1939, he fled the Nazi regime and immigrated to the United Kingdom where he met Lucie Rie, also a refugee, but from Austria. Rie taught Coper how to make ceramics and starting in 1946 the two shared a workshop at the Albion Mews Pottery Company. Coper and Rie worked to create functional wares often co-signing their works. In 1951, the pair exhibited their ceramics at the Milan Triennale alongside the furniture and textile designs of Robin and Lucienne Day.

Later in the 1950s, the pair began to diverge in style; Rie continued to make traditional ceramic forms while Coper began experimenting with new techniques of glazing and creating dramatic and sculptural in scope. His ceramics are known for their distinctively roughly-textured surface and earth tones which he formed by rubbing oxides onto the surface of his vessels. During the 1960s, Coper taught at both the Camberwell School of Arts and Crafts and the Royal College of Art in London. In 1962 he was invited to create a set of ceramic candlesticks for St. Michael’s Church in Coventry.

In 1967, Coper established his own studio in Frome, Somerset. In the following years he worked on his Cycladic line which took inspiration from the minimalistic forms of the early civilization. Hans Coper died in 1981 leaving behind a transformative legacy of monumental vessels. In 1983, his work was honored with a retrospective at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts in Norwich, England.

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