Modern Japanese Sculpture

Institute Conference
31st January 2015
Henry Moore Institute Seminar Room, 2-6pm

Kotaro Takamura
Bronze with a wooden base

Courtesy The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo
Photo: Sakamoto Photo Research Laboratory

A Study of Modern Japanese Sculpture displays nine sculptures from the Taisho and early Showa periods (1912-41), bringing sculpture from this period to British audiences for the first time. Tetsuya Mizunoya (1876-1943) and Risaburo Miyamoto (1904-98) feature, as well as the master sculptors Kotaro Takamura (1883-1956), Heihachi Hashimoto (1897-1935) and Chozan Sato (1888-1963). It is curated in partnership with Musashino Art University and Professor Edward Allington (Slade School of Fine Art).

The exhibition is part of a research project that sets out to bring a consideration of modern Japanese sculpture into the field of Anglophone sculpture studies. The particular focus is on sculpture made in Japan after the Meiji restoration of 1868 when artists turned their attention to Western sculptural practices. It displays a few carefully selected sculptures from the Taisho and early Showa periods (c.1912-37), drawing on major museum collections in Japan and bringing works of this period to this country for the first time.

All but two of the objects in the exhibition are carved in wood and have some kind of applied colour, whether a light, subtle wash or a dense, rich layer with detailed surface effects. The choice of material is often pragmatic, but in 'About the Stone' (1928) by Heihachi Hashimoto and 'Hand' (1918) by Kotaro Takamura the material becomes part of the subject matter. 'About the Stone' is accompanied by the stone it depicts, whilst 'Hand' was modelled in clay before being cast in bronze and can be seen here supported on a carved wood base that extends into the core of the work. All of these works enter into a dialogue with Western concepts of sculpture, but pose questions in terms of scale, support, subject matter and approach to materials.

The conference includes contributions from Hirotake Kurokawa (Musashino Art University, Sculpture Department), Akira Fujii (Hirakushi Denchu Art Museum), Shuji Tanaka (Oita University), Clare Pollard (The Ashmolean Museum), Rosina Buckland (National Museum of Scotland), Edward Allington (Slade School of Art) and Sophie Raikes (Henry Moore Institute). We will be joined by Japanese speakers Samuel Suchley, Jason Fernandes and Arthur Morris from the School of Languages, Cultures and Societies at the University of Leeds.

A forthcoming issue of the Henry Moore Institute: Essays on Sculpture series will feature contributions from the speakers and a response to the conference. Published in Spring 2015, it will feature commissioned texts in Japanese and English.

Further information