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2 cuts downloaded, e-m'd downstairs 9-28



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2 cuts downloaded, e-m’d downstairs 9-28

2col cricket  

Shibata Zeshin, “Cricket and Flowering Vine,” circa 1880, collection of Catherine and Thomas Edson.

1col ghost

Shibata Zeshin, “Inro with Ghost Appearing Over Mosquito Net,” circa 1860–90, collection of Catherine and Thomas Edson.

FOR 10/5


avv/gs set 10/1 #714077

MINNEAPOLIS, MINN. —  One of Japan’s most highly regarded lacquer artists is the subject of the exhibition “The Genius of Shibata Zeshin: Japanese Masterworks from the Catherine and Thomas Edson Collection,” opening October 13 at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. Remaining on view through January 6, this exhibition features 57 of Zeshin’s works from the largest and finest privately held collection in the United States.

Amassed by San Antonio natives Kay and Tom Edson, the collection is notable for its variety and quality, ranging from embellished lacquered boxes, trays, inro (carrying containers) and netsuke (toggles), to hanging scrolls and albums painted with a technique developed by Zeshin.

This exhibition transports visitors back to the Nineteenth Century when Japan, a closed country for nearly 300 years, first opened to foreign trade when the world discovered a culture that placed high value on sophisticated artistic design and superb craftsmanship.

Before his death in 1891, Zeshin had gained a national and international reputation; his lacquers were exhibited in expositions in Vienna (1875), Philadelphia (1876), and Paris (1878). This exhibition, the first one in more than 20 years, chronicles the determined efforts of two American collectors to acquire objects that reflect Zeshin’s artistic daring.

Exacting craftsmanship, unusual materials and a sense of design distinguish Zeshin’s lacquers. Inventive and curious, Zeshin developed many new lacquering techniques. One of the most important was a lacquer formula that allowed him to paint on paper and silk. After the lacquer set, it remained pliable enough to allow for painted hanging scrolls to be rolled in the traditional manner.

Among the examples included in this exhibition is a scroll showing a flowering vine. Painted in transparent amber lacquer, the petals seem delicate and light, while a cricket clinging to the underside of a blossom adds an element of surprise.

Zeshin was born the son of working-class parents in Edo (present-day Tokyo) in 1807. At the age of 11, he apprenticed with Koma Kansai II (1766–1835), head of one of Japan’s oldest and most famous lacquer studios. After five years, he left to study painting with Suzuki Nanrei (1775–1844) and, later, Okamoto Toyohiko (1773–1845) in Kyoto.

Almost a decade later, Zeshin returned to Edo as an accomplished painter. Shortly thereafter he took over the Koma studio, launching his extremely prolific career as both a lacquerer and painter.

A fully illustrated color catalog accompanies this exhibition, which will travel to the Japan Society Gallery in New York March 28–June 15.

For information, 612-870-3131 or www.artsmia.org.

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