From the freshly cut camellia, a reminder of Japan, to a Kenzan-style ceramic with a simplified interpretation of the same flower.
[Kenzan-style incense burner with design of camellia, late 18th to early 19th century, Kyoto workshop; Edo period. Buff clay; white slip, iron and cobalt pigments under transparent glaze; bronze cover. Freer Sackler Galleries.]
[Tea bowl with design of pampas grass by Ogata Kenzan (1663–1743; Chojiyamachi workshop) Japan, Edo period, 1712–31. Buff clay; white slip, cobalt and iron pigments under transparent glaze. Gift of Charles Lang Freer. Freer and Sackler Galleries.]
Flat, restrained versions of camellias, plum blossoms, and other flowers and plants referenced in Japanese poetry are also key motifs found in Kenzan-ware decoration. Although these days it's hard to purchase anything that isn't branded, names were not typically associated with ceramics sold in 18th century Japan. But, according to the Freer and Sackler Galleries, Ogata Kenzan was the exception. Born into a family of textile merchants -- not potters -- Kenzan became interested in decorative painting and ultimately bought a well-established ceramics workshop. His team of professional potters decorated wares based on his spare designs, and the pieces were marketed under the Kenzan name.
The artists behind 21st century Working Class Studio aren't creating products anonymously. A division of SCAD, the studio is a vehicle for students, alumni and staff to translate their designs into marketable home accessories, like the Savannah Toile Collection and this "Hatch" pillow cover from the Cassie Collection by Cassie Hart (BFA, Illustration, SCAD) recently spotted at Providence.
[Design 1152 by Sonia Delaunay (French, born Russia, 1885–1979) France, 1932–33.
Produced by Metz & Co., printed silk.
Private collection © L & M SERVICES B.V. The Hague 20100623.
Photo: © private collection.]
When I saw Cassie's design, I thought of the Kenzan tea bowl decorated with abstracted blades of grass as well as Sonia Delaunay's textile, above, yet another sneak peek pulled from more than 300 works included in Color Moves: Art and Fashion by Sonia Delaunay, opening in five days at the Cooper-Hewitt. (Don't miss this related blog post by textile conservator, Sarah Scaturro.)
[Shibori at SRI Threads.]
More to explore: Imperial Palace Gardens with Wall, Tokyo (photography to benefit the Japan Society's Earthquake Relief Fund), Silent Cloud of Stars, Whose Sleeves?, Celebration of Spring: Woodblock Prints by Kawase Hasui, Daily Eye Candy and Sri Threads.
A note regarding the Japanese earthquake and tsunami: links to the Red Cross and UNICEF remain in the sidebar.