If you would have asked me years ago, what goes in to assembling a good collection, it would have been easy to say, "it would be composed of the pots that I like". Over the years of seeing notable collections of modern Japanese ceramics, sometimes the how and why the pieces were collected are obvious, other times it appears the pots were collected for their voice and impact on the collector. The later would seem to be the case when looking through the wonderful collection of Betsy and Robert Feinberg. The emphasis of the collection is non-tea oriented functional pots from the medieval traditions, Chinese inspired pottery and painted porcelain with sculptural, yet functional vessels all represented and in nearly every case, there is a clarity of idea and conversation that has been captured in clay. The pots range from a beautiful collection of celadon pieces by Kawase Shinobu to a number of my personal favorites, including; Kohyama Yasuhisa, Kakurezaki Ryuichi, Matsuzaki Ken, Furutani Michio and Higashida Shigemasa.
The hardbound catalogue for the collection; JAPANESE CERAMICS FOR THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY is profusely illustrated, 208 pages with an accompanying paragraph with each illustration or covering an artist and a must have. There are three essays included in the book by Betsy Feinberg (collector), Joan Mirviss (dealer) and Robert Mintz (curator) that provide both context and purpose to the collection. On loan to The Walters Art Gallery, each pot is an insight in to each of the various ceramic artists and their tradition or direction providing a wonderful conversational narrative that links each piece from maker, to object, to viewer. In retrospect, it is the persistence and dedication of an informed and receptive collector that makes for a truly thoughtful collection.