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Bernard Leach

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Bernard Leach

British, (1887–1979)

British potter, Bernard Leach,is one of the mostin fluential figuresfor ceramics, especially pottery,in the United States over the last one-hundred years. He is an exception to be included in this exhibition, which focuses on ceramics created in this country, but his influence is so pronounced that it is impossible not to include him. Many ceramic artists read his “A Potter’s Book,” first published in 1940 and for many years it wasconsidered the potter’s “bible,” providing guidance on Korean, Japanese, Chinese and English traditions of pottery with recipes for glazes, information about forms, clay bodies and more. However, it was his extensive travelswhere he taught thesephilosophiesand approachestopottery that made the most significant impact. During the 1950s,hetraveled throughout the United States with his close friends, Japanese master potter Shoji Hamada, and philosopher Soetsu Yanagi.Together, they did pottery throwing and firing demonstrations, shared philosophies of Zen Buddhism and the Folk Craft Movement, or Mingei, in Japan, and provided a window into cultural traditions that potters have previously never seen. Bernard Leach was born in Hong Kong and lived there until the age of threebefore his family returned to England. Afterstudying etching at the Slade School in Fine Art in London, he decided to return to Japan as an adult with the intent of teaching etching. Shortly after arriving he was introduced to raku firing at a party, and immediately changed his course to apprentice inJapan from 1910-20 as a potter.

Artist Objects

Jar 1984.6

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