Wednesday, August 12, 2015


For the past three decades (!), I have taken every opportunity to acquire books on modern Japanese pottery which covers from about 1900 to the present. The vast majority of these books are in Japanese and quite a few are surveys that cover the history of the field up to the time they were written. For some reason, many of these surveys date from the 1970's and cover the traditional and cutting edge of modern pottery up until the time the manuscripts and photos had to go to the publishers and if I had to hazard a guess, 80% of these potters are unknown to most collectors today. A while back I was able to acquire a five volumes set that was published in 1970 and written by Kuroda Kusaomi, each volume covers about 50 potters and is illustrated though the majority of photos are in black and white. Each volume focuses on the major potters of the day and has a section for signatures and seals covering those introduced in each book. I love books like these that give a perspective of what the dynamics of the pottery scene was like in 1970 from those that were ultra-traditionalists, avant-garde and potters who were finding new ways out of strict traditions much like Tsukigata Nahiko who is covered in one of the volumes. I assume that the set of books and photos were probably done over the course of a year or so and despite the lack of color photographs it is obvious that 1970 was a very good year.
Illustrated is a totemic style, unglazed sculptural piece by a young potter only recently using a traditional Shigaraki anagama, most likely the first in the valley for a very long time; Kohyama Yasuhisa. To my eye, this piece gives a few hints as to where Kohyama was destined to go with his pursuit of coil-built objects as well as showing an aesthetic discipline determined to make the viewer take notice and walk away all the richer for the encounter.
James Taylor live performance from 1970; FIRE & RAIN