Feature Articles

January 2014

Columbia Museum of Art in Columbia, SC, Offers Collection of Alex & Barbara Kasten

The Columbia Museum of Art in Columbia, SC, will present Meiji Magic: Imperial Porcelain from Japan from the collection of Alex and Barbara Kasten, on view in Gallery 15, from Jan. 3 through May 18, 2014.

After years of shogun rule, in 1868 Japan was once again ruled by an Emperor. He took the name Meiji which means “enlightened rule”. This period is called the Meiji Restoration and endured until 1912. The government realized that Japanese arts and crafts could be exported to answer the Western curiosity about Japanese culture and to help stabilize the Japanese economy. The province of Satsuma was a particularly important producer of porcelains and stoneware during this rich period of production.

The Satsuma ceramic pieces in this exhibition represent the characteristics that attracted collectors in the West as well as at home in Japan. The artists painted with delicate brushes, applying tiny strokes of enamel on the ceramic surface. Their compositions were intricate and highly detailed scenes of Japanese life. Each piece is unique with designs that tell stories about Japanese customs, the landscape and life at court and in the countryside.

These images captured the imagination of turn of the century collectors just as they do today. The level of detail requires close study to uncover all the nuances of each piece. Through them the viewer can be transported into a fantasy world of ancient Samurai and festivals under blooming sakura trees in Japan’s parks.

What is Meiji magic? Collector Alex Kasten believes that the magic of Meiji is that after so many years living with this collection he still finds new details to amaze him.

The Museum is also showing Annie Leibovitz: Pilgrimage, on view through Jan. 5, which charts a new direction for one of America’s best-known living artists. Unlike her staged and carefully lit portraits made on assignment for magazines and advertising clients, these photographs were taken simply because Leibovitz was moved by the subject. The CMA is the only exhibition presentation in the Southeast.

The Museum is also showing Cool and Collected: New Art at the CMA, on view through Jan. 5, 2014. Over the past few years, a number of brilliant gifts have come to the CMA, and thus to the community we serve. The CMA has also made a select number of purchases designed to chip away at the remaining gaps in its ever-growing collection. In these two galleries, highlights of these gifts and purchases are on view.

Located in the heart of downtown Columbia, the CMA ranks among the leading art institutions in the country and is distinguished by its innovative exhibitions and creative educational programs. At the heart of the Museum and its programs is its collection, which encompasses nearly 7,000 works and spans thousands of years of history, representing a full range of world cultures. Established in 1950, the Museum now welcomes more than 135,000 visitors annually and acts as a catalyst for community creativity, engaging people of all ages and backgrounds with a diverse spectrum of programming, from exhibitions and lectures to concerts, Arts & Draughts parties and craft haven gatherings. The collection includes masterpieces of the Italian Renaissance, Baroque and Rococo from the Samuel H. Kress Collection, porcelain and works by significant furniture and silver makers, as well as American, Asian, and modern and contemporary art. Of particular interest are Sandro Botticelli’s Nativity, Claude Monet’s The Seine at Giverny, Canaletto’s View of the Molo, a Dale Chihuly chandelier and art glass by Louis Comfort Tiffany.

For more info check our SC Institutional Gallery listings, call 803/799-2810 or visit (www.columbiamuseum.org).

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