KANESHIGE TŌYŌ (1896-1967)
Bizen style kinuta-shaped (furling block) eared flower vase and natural kiln effects
Unglazed stoneware with original box with ‘Koshinan’ signature
10 1/4 x 4 3/4 x 5 in.
Potter’s Mark: To (carved on base)
Box Title: Bizen mimitsuki hanaire, Tsuboshinan; Top level work: Eared Bizen Vase
Signed: Tōyō zō
The first Living National Treasure in Bizen ware, Kaneshige Tōyō (1896-1967) was one of the most important ceramic artists of the twentieth century. By the late 1920s, he had already begun his life-long pursuit of revitalizing Ko-Bizen (Old Bizen) wares of the Momoyama period (1573-1615). He rediscovered its long-lost methods of clay preparation, kiln building, kiln loading, and firing. His successful recovery of ancient techniques enabled future generations of ceramists to explore the unique traits of Bizen ware for themselves. Artists were eager for workshop visits and exchanges with him, and so in 1952, Kaneshige hosted Rosanjin and his friend, renowned sculptor Isamu Noguchi, at his kiln in Imbe. Putting to work a team of assistants that included, at times, Kaneshige's wife, Rosanjin produced several hundred vessels and objects in just one week. Rosanjin went further and persuaded Kaneshige to build him a Bizen-style kiln at his compound, Kita Kamakura, which allowed for Rosanjin to produce his own Bizen style ware.
This large-eared flower vase exhibits Bizen ware's characteristic earthy, reddish-brown tones, but the dry look of the clay surface, and the elegant shape and lines of the vessel, give it a "noble beauty" that came to be associated with Kaneshige's works. His contact with Isamu Noguchi further developed his interest in bolder, sculptural silhouettes for his functional vessels that departed from classical forms.
For similar works:
Bizen yaki no miryoku: Dentō to sōzō (The Captivation of Bizen Ware: Unglazed Stoneware). Exhibition catalogue. Ibaraki Ceramic Art Museum, 2004, p. 51, pl. 45.
Kaneshige Tōyō isakumeihinten (Kaneshige Tōyō Posthumous Exhibition of His Masterpieces). Tokyo: Asahishinbun, 1977, pl. 2. Exhibition travelled to Takashimaya Art Gallery in Tokyo and Osaka as well as Matsuakaya Art Gallery in Nagoya.