The rewards of hardship

| Apr 5, 2007

The rewards of hardship

by Robert Yellin

One of Japan’s most influential 20th-century ceramic artists, Mineo Okabe, was relatively unknown — and certainly under-appreciated — during his lifetime. Today, though, potters take great inspiration from, and collectors go gaga over, the bold new forms and styles he created. It’s often said ...

Crafting the tea demon in Hagi

| Aug 24, 2006

Crafting the tea demon in Hagi

by Robert Yellin

Psychologist Abraham Maslow (1908-1970), in his theory of self-actualization, said, “If you plan on being anything less than you are capable of being, you will probably be unhappy all the days of your life.” At 96 years old, the grand potter of Hagi, Miwa ...

Looking back on 10 years of yakimono

| Dec 22, 2005

Looking back on 10 years of yakimono

by Robert Yellin

In the 10 years since this column started, much has changed in the worldwide perception of yakimono, Japanese ceramic art. I’m talking about in the contemporary realm, not antiques. The deep and wide world of contemporary Japanese ceramic art is as varied as there ...

Porcelain horizons, modern monoliths

| Aug 31, 2005

Porcelain horizons, modern monoliths

by Robert Yellin

There are works of art that, maybe only once in our lifetime, may define an era and capture life’s boundless spirit with a beauty that both moves the heart and deepens the experience of existence. A few years back at the inaugural exhibition of ...

Liberating Japan's world of ceramics

| Jul 27, 2005

Liberating Japan's world of ceramics

by Robert Yellin

In the ceramic world of early 20th-century Kyoto, Chinese ceramics, not Kyo-yaki (Kyoto-style pottery) were the rage of the day, and any potter worth a spin on the wheel strove to emulate them. In form and color, the ability to perfectly copy an ancient ...

Hidden gems in clay

| Jun 29, 2005

Hidden gems in clay

by Robert Yellin

Any new publication on Japanese ceramic art in English is a welcome addition to the few books on the subject. Like “Masterpieces of Modern Japanese Pottery from the Gisela Freudenberg Collection” currently showing in Frankfurt, Germany, many of these publications coincide with exhibitions and ...

Spectacular diversity of clay

| May 18, 2005

Spectacular diversity of clay

by Robert Yellin

As noted in this column last month, Japanese ceramic art is finding a wider audience overseas. Many collectors search out the great potters of the past, such as Shoji Hamada (1894-1978) or Kanjiro Kawai (1890-1966), while more savvy collectors are looking to find out ...

The Koreans who potted in Kyushu

| Apr 20, 2005

The Koreans who potted in Kyushu

by Robert Yellin

Japan has long been fascinated with outside influences, and voraciously absorbs them in order to create something totally unique. This can be found in almost all aspects of Japanese industry and culture — and it is nowhere more apparent than in the pottery born ...