Clay-logo Keramikmuseum

Museum of ceramic art


8th October 2023 – 11th August 2024

Artist and author Edmund de Waal will curate an exhibition of acclaimed Danish ceramicist Axel Salto (1889 – 1961), considered one of the greatest masters of
20th Century ceramic art.

The exhibition is the result of a collaboration between Edmund de Waal, CLAY Museum of Ceramic Art Denmark, and Kunstsilo, Norway. It opens in Denmark in October 2023, at the Kunstsilo in September 2024, and at The Hepworth Wakefield, West Yorkshire, in 2025.

Born in Copenhagen in 1889, Axel Salto was a radical polymathic figure who crossed boundaries from one discipline to another, producing an extraordinary
body of ceramic work alongside paintings, wood-cuts, drawings, book illustration, and textiles. After studying at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts where he became intrigued by modernism and a progressive aesthetic, Salto travelled to Paris, where he met Picasso and Matisse. An accomplished poet and author, he founded the influential Danish art journal Klingen (The Blade), an important forum for critical thinking in Denmark.

Salto is internationally renowned for his highly individual and expressive stoneware inspired by organic forms, characterised by budding, sprouting, and fluted surface textures that appear to ripple and burst with life. This exhibition will bring together a significant number of Salto’s ceramic works from the collection of CLAY Museum of Ceramic Art, Denmark, and The Tangen Collection at Kunstsilo, the world’s largest collection of Nordic modernist art. Salto’s ceramics will be shown alongside lesser-known and unseen works on paper, illustrations, writings and textiles, with a major new installation by de Waal reflecting on Salto’s enduring influence.

Edmund de Waal said:

“Axel Salto is one of the greatest artists of the twentieth century. He created a unique body of ceramic work that continues to fascinate me. His sculptures seem to be on the point of change: glazes are caught in flux. Vases swell as if to burst. He cared about the ways that patterns change course, shift energies, how an animal becomes a person, a man metamorphoses into a stag. Ovid ran powerfully through his life. That moment of change, transformation, is the moment when poetry occurs.”

The exhibition will be accompanied by a richly illustrated book, published by Forlaget PRESS exploring the dialogue between the two artists. The book will contain a wide range of excerpts from Salto’s extensive writings, an interview with de Waal, as well as a new essay in which de Waal investigates the concept of metamorphosis and the fusing of clay and words.

The project is made possible by a generous donation from the AKO Foundation, a London-based philanthropic foundation

Exhibition design by Hutchison Kivotos Architects.

Edmund de Waal surrounded
by Axel Salto’s work at the
Clay Museum of Ceramic Art Denmark.
Photo by Peter Leth-Larsen
© Axel Salto/VISDA