Feature Articles

February 2014

Columbia Museum of Art in Columbia, SC, Offers Exhibition of Japanese Art

The Columbia Museum of Art in Columbia, SC, will present Japan and the Jazz Age, a new exhibition showcasing the spectacular craftsmanship and sophisticated design of Japanese Art Deco, a popular design style of the early 20th century characterized by bold lines and simple shapes. The exhibition, in the Lipscomb Family Gallery, opens on Feb. 7, and remains on view through Apr. 20, 2014.

Also on view in the Mamie and William Andrew Treadway, Jr. Gallery 15, is the exhibition, Meiji Magic: Imperial Porcelain from Japan, through May 18, 2014.

Japan and the Jazz Age is the first exhibition of its kind in the United States, exploring the artists’ ingenuity and love of the materials. This exciting show features nearly 130 dramatic examples of Art Deco in a wide variety of objects including sculpture, photography, ceramics, lacquer, glass, wood furniture, jewelry, textiles, graphic design, painting and woodblock prints.

The exhibit features a dynamic range of material, allowing visitors to discover this rich period in world history and visual culture. This exhibition recreates the energy and excitement of the Art Deco age in Japan between the two world wars-from the 1920s to 1940s. The artists celebrated in this exhibition transformed the traditional motifs in Japanese art to reflect their more cosmopolitan lifestyle while capturing the rapidly changing and modernizing Japanese culture during the Jazz age, including flappers and music halls.

“Most people know about the Jazz Age in New York and Paris, but not in Japan,” says CMA curator Victoria Cooke. “This exhibition gives you a glimpse at a moment in history when Japanese culture was influenced by the Western love of improvisational music, joyous dancing, fast trains, and city skylines with sleek skyscrapers.”

This beautiful and historically fascinating exhibition tells the story of how the traditional transformed into the modern. With extraordinary skill and creativity, Japanese artists married the urbane decorative styles emerging in Europe with revered forms of the past: geisha became 1920s flappers; ancient origami cranes turned into sleek, gold statuettes; kimono morphed into emblems of fashion chic. Art Deco injected new style into everything from traditional woodblock prints and textiles to sculpture. The contradictions of this epic era in world history of the 1920s and 1930s, and the astonishing innovation that can result from a clash between the old and the new are evident in Japan and the Jazz Age.

“We are so pleased to bring this unique exhibition of beautiful art deco from a fascinating period in Japanese history to our visitors,” says CMA director Karen Brosius. “These pieces bring to life an exciting time of growth, innovation, and transition that we do not always think about occurring simultaneously in Japan and the West. Our visitors will find an interest in some aspect of the diversity and range of the collection on display-be it music, fashion, animals, or other-there is truly something for everyone to delight in here.”

The exhibition is drawn from Levenson Collection-one of the world’s premier collections of Japanese art in the Art Deco style-and is organized and circulated by Art Services International, Alexandria, VA, under the title DECO JAPAN: Shaping Art and Culture, 1920-1945.

A full-color catalogue will accompany the exhibition. The catalogue, DECO JAPAN: Shaping Art & Culture, 1920-1945, will be available for purchase in the Museum Shop.

Sponsored by Family Medicine Centers of South Carolina, P.A., Sylvan’s Jewelry and Mikimoto, Dr. and Mrs. John Mark Dean, Jerry Dell and Ben Gimarc, and The Smith Family Foundation. Support has been provided by The Chisholm Foundation and the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation.

The exhibition, Meiji Magic: Imperial Porcelain from Japan, is on view 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 lasted 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.

This exhibition is sponsored by Walda Wildman, CPA, LLP.

The Columbia Museum of Art is a charitable non-profit that celebrates outstanding artistic creativity through its collection, exhibitions and programs, interacting in ways that engage the mind and enrich the spirit. Located in the heart of downtown Columbia, SC, 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 CMA 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 CMA now welcomes more than 135,000 visitors annually and is 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. It is the recipient of a National Art Education Association award for its contributions to arts education and an Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Governor’s Award for the Arts for outstanding contributions to the arts in South Carolina.

For further information check our SC Institutional Gallery listings, call the Museum at 803/799-2810 or visit (www.columbiamuseum.org).

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