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Hard Bodies

Contemporary Japanese Lacquer Sculpture

2017
Author:

Andreas Marks

Hard Bodies

It’s an art nearly as old as civilization itself—with a twenty-first century attitude

Over the past thirty years, a small but enterprising circle of lacquer artists has pushed the medium in new directions by creating large-scale sculptures—works both conceptually innovative and exploitive of lacquer’s natural virtues. Featuring thirty works by sixteen artists, Hard Bodies details the first-ever exhibition of contemporary Japanese lacquer sculpture in the U.S., shown at the Minneapolis Institute of Art.

Since the Neolithic era, artisans in East Asia have coated bowls, cups, boxes, baskets, and other utilitarian objects with a natural polymer distilled from the sap of the Rhus verniciflua, known as the lacquer tree. Lacquerware was, and still is, prized for its sheen—a lustrous beauty that artists learned to accentuate over the centuries with inlaid gold, silver, mother-of-pearl, and other precious materials.

This tradition has undergone challenges over the past thirty years. A small but enterprising circle of lacquer artists has pushed the medium in entirely new and dynamic directions by creating large-scale sculptures—works that are both conceptually innovative and superbly exploitive of lacquer’s natural virtues.

Featuring thirty works by sixteen artists, this handsome publication details the first-ever exhibition of contemporary Japanese lacquer sculpture in the United States, shown at the Minneapolis Institute of Art.

Hard Bodies

Andreas Marks is curator of Japanese and Korean art and director of the Clark Center at the Minneapolis Institute of Art.

About This Book