I wandered into the Tadeo Ando gallery
at the Art Institute yesterday
(that's the dark room that resembles
a Japanese temple)
and came across a large exhibit of
Toshiko Takaezu (b. 1929)
(here's a shot to show the relative size of the pieces)
These large ceramic lumps
are so relaxing !
I didn't know I wanted to be peaceful
until I saw them
everything seems like it grew
to be that way,
but it's still more enjoyable
than a natural object
because I feel a soft
what a beautiful woman this is!
but once the shape gets a little
I'm losing my sense of satisfaction
Peter Voulkos (1924-2002), 1954
Toshiko Takaezu, 1970
Maija Grotell (1899-1973), 1940
Here's three pieces presented for comparison.
Voulkos was a contemporary who eventually left the
Japanese/peaceful to become American/disturbed
Grotell was an instructor at Cranbrook when Toshiko went there.
These things are all so peaceful and enjoyable for me,
like a walk through the fields
on sunny day in late autumn
Bernard Leach (1887-1979)
Hamada Shoji (1894-1978)
The exhibit also included
from renowned potters of an earlier generation,
and all of these things
I find so enjoyable.
But I'm not going to sign on
with the kinds of art-talk that accompanies
this contemporary tradition:
"Takaezu has been instrumental in moving ceramics beyond its historical ties to the concept of function and into the realm of sculpture," James Jensen wrote in 1995. She transformed clay "from something associated only with utilitarian objects to something that could be meaningful, capable of embodying abstract ideas."
when have collectible ceramics,
over the past 1000 years (and longer) ,
ever not been within the realm of sculpture ?
When have they not been capable
of embodying abstract ideas ?
And .. what are those ideas anyway ?
Doesn't each viewer have their own?
I think the terrible fact is.....
that this art is as traditional
as the neo academic painters
who want to draw like Renaissance masters.
It's just that...
Asian ceramics is a tradition that's acceptable
to the art museums of today.
and one more issue....
was it really such a good idea
for the A.I.C. to put acquire all these pieces ?
(they were gifted by the artist herself)
Doesn't that mean that they will spend most of their time
in the dark basement?
If they were given - or sold - to someone else
wouldn't they get to be seen more frequently ?
And don't they take up a lot of space ?
Why not just dedicate a museum display area to contemporary
and cycle temporary exhibits through it every month ?
Toshiko Takaezu is very good,
but aren't there several hundred (or even thousand)
contemporaries who are just as good ?