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As embodied in their ceramics, the philosophies of these artisans could not be more different. Kitaôji Rosanjin (1883–1959) created Modernist func- tional tableware, which he used at his exclusive eating club in Tokyo. His leaf-shaped, silver-glazed platter withcolored dots(1958) suggests apainter’s palette,and a dish ofglazed stoneware—half moss-green, half whitewith blue dashes(1960s)—calls to
mind Matisse. Ki-taôji intendedboth pieces to beusable objects.Likewise, his near-contemporaryKawakita Han-deishi (1878–
1963) famouslysaid he made hischarming teabowls “in order to drink tea.” In contrast, the younger Arakawa Toyozô (1894– 1985) sculpted vessels for visual appeal that he never intended for use. In fact, some of his tea bowls have cracks in their bases, rendering them unusable.
A sea change took place after World War II, when a new generation of ce- ramists moved more decisively toward sculpture. A barrel-shaped stoneware piece with two cylindrical mouths (1956) by Yagi Kazuo (1918–79) conjures a creature from another planet, while his ceramic self-portrait (ca. 1940–50s), made with wormlike clumps of clay, speaks of mortality. Most striking of all were the bold works of Kamoda Shôji
(1933–1983), functional vessels for those who insist on it, but mostly sculptural meditations on the nature of the Earth and of clay.
—Mona Molarsky
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