Browsing Research and Scholarship by Author "Akiyama, Grant"
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ItemReframing Tradition in Modern Japanese Ceramics of the Postwar Period Comparison of a Vase by Hamada Shōji and a Jar by Kitaōji Rosanjin(2017-05) Akiyama, Grant; Childers, Hope MarieFollowing the 1950s, Hamada and Rosanjin were pivotal figures in the discourse of American and Japanese ceramics. In 1954, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) held a solo exhibition for Rosanjin.1 The Japanese government designated Hamada a “Living National Treasure” following his tours to Europe and the United States.2 In addition, Hamada received honorary doctorates in both the United States and England.3 This investigation of Japanese ceramics of the 20th century focuses through two vessels, a vase (fig.1, 20th c.) by Hamada Shōji (1894-1978) and a jar (fig. 2, 1953) by Kitaōji Rosanjin (1883-1959). A comparison of the vase and jar serves as a case study in how and why Hamada and Rosanjin became known as exemplary potters. Rather than exalting Rosanjin and Hamada as exceptional craftsmen of the 20th century, I examine how and why they attained such prestige to reveal a confluence of personal, institutional, and global structures that justified their status in modern ceramic history. Instead of maintaining tradition, Hamada and Rosanjin reinvented traditional Japanese ceramics. This implies that the Japanese characteristics seen in Hamada’s vase and Rosanjin’s jar are a reconfiguration of conventions in the 20th century rather than a conservation of tradition.