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Kitaōji Rosanjin

Kitaōji Rosanjin

Photograph by Isamu Noguchi ©The Isamu Noguchi Foundation and Garden Museum, New York / ARS – JASPAR

Rosanjin biography


Master of an enormous range of glazes, KITAŌJI ROSANJIN produced superb functional vessels and tableware in stoneware and porcelain that were used in his celebrated and exclusive eating club in Tokyo. In addition to ceramics, he also painted, created lacquerware, carved seals, and practiced calligraphy. A friend of Noguchi Isamu, Rosanjin traveled to the US and Europe towards the end of his life, where his work was already receiving broad recognition. When selected in 1955 as Living National Treasure for his mastery of Oribe, he indignantly declined the honor, as Arakawa Toyozō, his former apprentice, had already been selected for Shino ceramics. Worldwide, Rosanjin is the best-known Japanese ceramist of the twentieth century.

Without extraordinary ideas there can be no extraordinary results.


biography continued

1883                Born in Kamigamo to the north of Kyoto, the second son of a Shinto priest
1895                Inspired by the work of Takeuchi Seihō, aspired to become a painter
1899                Became a painter of the then-popular Western-style signboards; studies calligraphy
1903                Settled in Tokyo
1907                Became an independent calligrapher under the name Fukuda Ōtei
1915                Succeeded to the Kitaōji name and started pottery making
1919                Began antique appraisal business with Nakamura Takeshiro
1921                Inaugurated hugely successful Tokyo membership-based eating club
1922                Changed his name to Kitaōji Rosanjin (meaning “foolish mountain man”)
1924                Started working with ceramic artist Arakawa Toyozō
1925                Opened Hoshigaoka restaurant near Hie Shrine in Tokyo as manager and chief chef
1926                Established kiln for Hoshigaoka in Kamakura with Arakawa Toyozō as director
1930                Arakawa discovered an old kiln in Mino conducting research financed by Rosanjin
1936                Left restaurant to focus on ceramics

biography continued pt 3

1940-43           In addition to pottery, began to produce paintings and lacquerware
1949                Visited Bizen potter Kaneshige Tōyō with Noguchi Isamu
1951                Noguchi and his wife moved next door to Rosanjin in Yamazaki and set up studio at Rosanjin’s invitation. Selected to exhibit in Exhibition of Modern Japanese Pottery, Musée Cernuschi, Paris; the exhibition traveled to Vallauris, where work attracted the attention of Pablo Picasso
1952                Began producing Bizen style pottery
1953                Mrs. John D. Rockefeller III visited Rosanjin in Yamazaki
1954                Visited the US and Europe with 200 works at invitation of Rockefeller Foundation Exhibition held at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, presenting some 250 works. Lectured at Museum of Modern Art and other museums; and donated works. The exhibition traveled to London, Paris, and Rome. Met Picasso and Chagall in Vallauris
1955                Offered and declined the designation of Living National Treasure for Oribe glaze
1959                Died at the age of 76
Countless posthumous exhibitions throughout Japan through to the present

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