Thursday, August 09, 2007

Hakone Heads

Isshiki Kunihiko (b. 1935)

Located about 60 miles south of Tokyo,
in the national park that includes Mt. Fuji,
the Hakone Open Air Museum
was opened in 1969
as a kind of modern-art theme park,
so it's got the required Picasso Pavilion,
26 pieces by Henry Moore,
and representative works of the canonical European masters.
(Maillol, Rodin, Bourdelle, Rosso, Brancusi,
Despiau, Milles, Boccioni, Leger, Laurens,
Archipenko, Arp, Ernst, Zadkine,Gabo, Miro,
Hepworth, Giacometti, Marini, Manzu)

There's only two native -born Americans,
Calder and Rickey
(and neither of them are figure sculptors)

But it also has a rather thorough collection of
20th C. Japanese figure sculpture,
including many sculptors who can barely
be found on the internet (if at all)

Yuichi Sakurai (1914-1981)

Once a collector steps outside the canon,
what, besides taste,
can determine what gets collected ?

And if the Japanese don't have good taste,
who does ?

(compare this national museum of sculpture
with its American equivalent - Brookgreen gardens,
with its unfortunate tradition of bombast,
begun by its wealthy founder, Anna Hyatt Huntington

There seem to be three streams that come together here:

One of them being Japanese ceramics (especially seen in the above two pieces)

These are like pots that have become heads
(a fine thing for them to do!)

Ueki Tsutomu (b. 1913)

Maybe a bit cartoonish,
but a nice strong character
in that cartoon

Masamichi Yamamoto (b. 1941)

These Japanese sculptors can present
a convincing character,
but just can't forget that they're
trying to make a handsome pot.

Yasuda Shuzaburo (1906-1981)

This one is more just like a pot
in the wabi-sabi tradition,
but it also feels like it could be the portrait
of a very up-tight executive,
doesn't it ?

Churyo Sato (b. 1912)

A second stream of influence I'd note,
would be the kind of modern Italian elegance,
found in Emilio Greco or Giacomo Manzu

So urbane.

Asakura Kyoko (b. 1925)

More Italian

Kakei Goro (b. 1930)

But this is more a Noh mask,
without the high-finish,
so only the essentials reman

Hideo Hase (1900-1986)

Another piece that feels European
(do Japanese have necks that long ?)
(does anyone have a neck that long ?)
(should this be called "Mannerism"?)

Hiromori Kuwahara (b. 1927)

And this looks exactly like the portrait
I did of my wife, 30 years ago

Kato Kensei (1894-1966)

This is where I see the third stream of influence:

Especially strong in the early 20th C.

Hirose Kazuko (b. 1935)

But then .. this meditative piece feels Buddhist

Nishi Tsuneo (b. 1911)

Very convincing as a real person,
the kind who's made one too many
difficult business decisions.

(his name was Yoshi Fujiwara --
I wonder whether he's descended from
Lady Murasaki's friend,
Fujiwara Michinaga)

Hiroatsu Takata (b. 1961)

While I'm doubting that this realistic character
ever made a business decision in his life
(the poet, Jean Cocteau)

Yoshida Yoshido (b. 1912)

While this person could be anyone
(as indeed she could -- being a professional actress)

Takashi Shimizu (1897-1981)

This feels like a later French style,
for example

Iwano Yuzo (1931-1987)

Jiro Hashimoto (b. 1919)

Kai Ito (b. 1918)

Amenomiya Jiro (1889-1970)

Amenomiya Keiko (b. 1931)

Funakoshi Yasutake (b. 1912)

Yoshi Kinouchi (1892-1977)

Have you noticed who's missing ?

There's no sculptors born during the 1920's.
(I think that generation of young men
was pretty much annihilated during the war)


Anonymous suburbanlife said...

These are a remarkable series of heads you have shown here, Chris. there is a distinct sensibility in handling the modelling of the material here, with greater emphasis on a range of marks,very calligraphic, left after manipulations. also I sense and notice a different kind of form from the European, more internal and external push - pull - it's tough to define, but as if internal forces from within the form counter the pressures of space - this is also noticeable in Japanese ceramics, and you did mention that tendency in your blog.
This was a real treat! Thanks for taking the time to put it all together. G

August 10, 2007  
Blogger chris miller said...

yes -- that internal-external push pull - that seems more important than the human character being imagined.

I suppose those priorities would be reversed here , in this collection of German portraiture from the early 20th C.

August 11, 2007  
Blogger Lori Witzel said...

suburbanlife is right about the different thrust of energy/reticence in these.

All I can say is ahhhh...

Well, not quite all. Where would I be without my dose of as-seen-through-Chris'-eyes beauty?

Well, I'd still be here, but I'd be so much poorer without having seen these, and the beginnings of your Greek postings, and so many other things you've shared.

*happy sigh*

August 11, 2007  

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