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Beauty in All Things: Japanese Art and Design

An Exhibition Exploring the Seminal Elements of Japanese Aesthetics, to Open in Late November

New York, NY (November 3, 2011)

An exhibition demonstrating how Japanese artists and designers conjure beauty in such everyday objects as a vessel and a chair will complete the fall season of offerings at The Museum of Arts and Design and remain on view until February 19, 2012. Among the makers featured in the Beauty in All Things: Japanese Art and Design are the ceramicist Jun Kaneko, textile designer Jun-ichi Arai, and sculptor Harumi Noguchi, along with the designers Hiroki Takada and the Nendo Design Studio. Whether by maintaining the tradition of outstanding craftsmanship or pushing age-old techniques in new directions, all of these makers have produced objects that possess the timeless elegance and allure that is quintessential to Japanese art and design.

“Since this institution’s beginnings, we have had a strong affinity for Japanese creators, because they, like us, celebrate beauty in all forms of creative expression, without distinguishing between art, craft, and design,” says Holly Hotchner, MAD’s Nanette L. Laitman Director.

The exhibition contains both pieces from MAD’s distinctive holdings, supplemented with some important works that have never before been shown in a museum. Notable among the displayed works is Takayuki Sakiyama’s “Choto: Listening to the Waves” (2006). Composed of thick raked coils of clay that spiral into a form reminiscent of both a whirlpool and a bamboo basket, it demonstrates how deeply nature influences Japanese art and design. Harumi Nakashima’s “Struggling Form” (1997), by contrast, is a bubbly, undulating stoneware sculpture covered in a pattern of multi-sized blue dots that serves as a paean to the artist’s interest in Pop Art and Anime. Another dramatic and innovative work that is steeped in tradition is “Indigo Cube—Mist” (1991), a tea ceremony room fashioned out of indigo-dyed linen, handmade paper, and aluminum by Shihoku Fukumoto. Although the architecture is unconventional, itincorporates traditional paper-making and dyeing techniques in the making of this most ritualistic of structures. The dynamism and ingenuity of contemporary Japanese design is poetically expressed in Nendo Design Studio’s “Cabbage Chair Prototype” (2008). Commissioned by Issey Miyake, who wanted something to do with the rolls of pleated paper left over from his Pleats Please line, Nendo developed the chair in a simple but elegant solution by peeling back layers of the rolls to form a seat.

“In putting together this exhibition, we tried to demonstrate the full range of Japanese aesthetics, from the subtle beauty of traditional Japanese works, to the pop sensibilities associated with young Japanese artists and designers,” says MAD’s associate curator Jennifer Scanlan, the organizer of Beauty in All Things.

About the Museum of Arts and Design

The Museum of Arts and Design explores how art, design and artisanship intersect in the visual arts today. The Museum focuses on contemporary creativity and the ways in which artists and designers from around the world transform materials through processes that range from the handmade to cutting-edge technologies. The Museum’s exhibition program explores and illuminates issues and ideas; highlights creativity and craftsmanship; and celebrates the limitless potential of materials and techniques when used by creative and innovative artists. MAD’s permanent collection is global in scope and focuses on art, craft, and design from 1950 to the present day. Education is central to the Museum’s mission. The Museum’s dynamic new facility features classrooms and studios for master classes, seminars, and workshops for students, families and adults. Three open artist studios engage visitors in the creative processes of artists at work and enhance the exhibition programs. Lectures, films, performances and symposia related to the Museum’s collection and topical subjects affecting the world of contemporary art, craft and design are held in a renovated 144-seat auditorium.


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