Long considered by many experts to be the greatest Japanese ceramic artist of the 20th century, KAMODA SHŌJI was able to accomplish in half a lifetime what other artists struggle to partially attain in double the time. In an unrivalled period of productivity from 1967-78, Kamoda transformed the aesthetic appreciation of modern ceramics in Japan. Always nominally functional, his stoneware “vessels” are ever imaginative in form, line, balance, glazing and decorative adornment. Form, surface and pattern are created in unison as a single unit. To this day, after his premature death at age forty-nine, clay artists continue to imitate and reinterpret his numerous inventive forms and surface designs. Enormously popular in his own lifetime, his shows typically sold out within hours of opening.
Born in 1933, Kamoda Shōji became one of Japan’s most celebrated potters. His groundbreaking approach to surface decoration and its sympathetic relationship to the form of his vessels helped revolutionize the way Japanese artists approached ceramic production. Inquisitive, thoughtful, and tireless, Kamoda was driven to innovate and experiment. In an interview conducted in 1980 he said, “When I change a method, it’s because I want to feel something new and fresh. In other words, I don’t like complacency.” By the time a particular body of work would receive critical acclaim, he would have already moved on, creating radically different works in rapid succession. This astonishing creativity garnered him a considerable following in Japan, with enthusiasts lining up to purchase his works as soon as they went on display. Despite his untimely death in 1983 at the age of 49, this admiration continues with well-attended public exhibitions and passionate collectors of his work even today. In recent decades, American collectors, too, have taken note of the beauty of his work and his monolithic importance to the field of Japanese ceramics.
In December 2021, the Minneapolis Institute of Art opened The Art of Change: Kamoda Shōji, the first solo exhibition for this remarkable artist outside of Japan. A fully illustrated catalog accompanies the exhibition. Aaron Rio, Associate Curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, provides a vivid account of Kamoda’s meteoric rise to fame and tireless quest to invent new surface treatments for his functional vessels. Yokobori Satoshi, curator at the Mashiko Museum of Ceramic Art, contributes an essay that reveals Kamoda’s knowledge of historic Japanese ceramic techniques, and posits the notion that Japanese ceramists at least since the 17th century have used clay for aesthetic innovation regardless of whether the final result was to be purely sculptural or functional in nature. The catalog highlights forty-nine works by Kamoda in American collections and also provides a timeline of his life and artistic development, a chronicle of solo and group exhibitions, and an extensive bibliography of publications in both English and Japanese. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Tall rectangular vessel with blue and white enameled banner pattern
Glazed stoneware with enamel inlay
17 x 5 1/2 x 5 3/4 inches
White-glazed vessel with wide mouth and tapering lower body with vertical triple ribbon patterns in overglaze blue, white and black enamel of white, blue and green on front and verso
9 5/8 x 7 7/8 x 7 7/8 in.
Large vessel with blue enamel glazed banding
10 1/4 x 10 1/2 in.
Circular vessel formed with bands of curvilinear colored-clay inlays
stoneware with glazed interior
6 7/8 x 6 1/2 inches
Black octagonal faceted vessel with small mouth
10 x 9 1/2 x 6 3/4 in.