Eumorfopoulos – not only a great admirer of Chinese art, and of ceramics more generally – was key in shaping the work of contemporary artists. Indeed, his collection had a social impact: for artists and studio potters such as Barbara Hepworth, Eumorfopoulos acted as an arbiter between the modernist art scene in which they worked and the inspiring ancient artefacts that informed their designs.
Paving the way for female artists in a world dominated by men, Barbara Hepworth became a leading figure in the new modernist movement associated with abstraction and direct carving. Making it new while looking back, appreciating, and re-evaluting classical art (including early Chinese pottery), her revolutionary principles were informed by ancient styles. One only has to consider the use of Chinese stoneware glazes on modernist sculptures to comprehend the importance of collections such as Eumorfopoulos’s. Art – Hepworth and other modernists understood – is an ongoing conversation with the past and present. In light of such acclaimed collections as Eumorfopoulos’s, it is of little wonder that studio pottery as an art form consequently grew in stature for, as Barbara Hepworth once said, carving ‘is more interesting […] because there is an unlimited variety of materials from which to draw inspiration’.1 And, as her connection with Eumorfopoulos surely signifies, Chinese ceramics were undoubtedly one of these inspiring materials. Continue reading for sneak peak of more of the collection photographed in China Rediscovered.