September 14, 2017
There is a period missing in the timeline of human development, that of the Bamboo Age. Bamboo’s widespread use since earliest times – particularly in East and Southeast Asia – elevates this extraordinary plant to almost mythic status. It has been used as transport (wheeled vehicles), building material, food, weapon, musical instrument and, even, poison. For hundreds of years, simple, everyday utensils as well as refined bamboo vessels were made according to local traditions and techniques passed down from generation to generation. Most ubiquitous of all, perhaps, is the basket.
It was not until the end of the 19th century that bamboo craftsmanship began to be recognized as one of the traditional Japanese decorative arts, and, later, as an art form. As with other handmade arts in Japan, there were lineages of craftsmen who handed down techniques and developed their personal styles; Masters emerged, recognized as National Living Treasures. Six of these artists are represented in this stunning show of 90 baskets collected by Diane and Arthur Abbey since the 1990s. The show comes to a close soon at the Met Museum.
FYI: The 64th Japan Traditional Kogei – Art Crafts – Exhibition will take place at the Hiroshima Prefectural Art Museum between February 23 and March 11, 2018