Hans Coper was born in Chemnitz on 8 April 1920, and his family lived in Reichenbach, Dresden and Leipzig. In 1939 he left Germany and came to England as a refugee.
In 1946 he met Lucie Rie and began to work at the Albion Mews Pottery. He became a British Subject in 1958, and the following year he moved to Digswell, Hertfordshire, where he was one of the founder members of the architectural group there.
During the 1960s he made two large murals composed of ceramic discs and designed a wide range of ceramic claddings. In 1960 he started teaching at Camberwell School of Art and in 1966 at the Royal College of Art, having returned to London in 1963. In 1967 he moved to Frome, Somerset, where he died in 1981.
Hans Coper’s first exhibitions were held at the Berkeley Galleries in London during the 1950’s, often with Lucie Rie. In 1951 he and Lucie Rie exhibited together in the Homes and Gardens Pavilion at the Festival of Britain in a room set designed by Robin Day. The 1950’s and 60’s also saw exhibitions in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, New York, Washington DC and Tokyo. In 1969 he shared a major joint exhibition with the weaver Peter Collingwood at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Exhibitions at Kettles Yard, Cambridge and the Robert Welch Gallery, in Chipping Camden in the late 1970’s were followed by a 60th Birthday exhibition at the Hetjens Museum in Dusseldorf in 1980.
After Coper’s death in 1981 a number of major retrospective exhibitions have been mounted including Hans Coper 1920 – 1981 at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts (and touring) in 1983-4, Lucie Rie/ Hans Coper: Masterworks by Two British Potters at the Metropolitan Museum, New York in 1994 and Lucie Rie / Hans Coper: Potters in Parallel at the Barbican Art Gallery, London in 1997.
Galerie Besson first exhibited Hans Coper in its opening year in 1988 and has continued to hold regular exhibits of his work. In June – July 2009 an exhibition of Hans Coper and Peter Collingwood will be mounted, forty years after the two artists had shared their V&A exhibition.