Kanjiro Kawai, (1890-1966, Japan)

Pair of Fused Bottles
Stoneware; ht. 7, wd. 4.25, dp. 6 in.

This work is a waster, essentially a reject, but at the same time the kiln created a exotic new work by fusing two pots together. Extraordinary wasters of this quality are becoming a collecting genre of their own, unpredictable collisions and intent and fate. This piece was given as a gift by Kawai’s son to the present owner. Kawai, one of the truly great potters of the 20th century was a key figure in mingei (Japanese folk art) and studio pottery movements, which included his friends Bernard Leach, Shoji Hamada and Kenkichi Tomimoto. As a child he watched a nearby farmer who made pottery in his spare time, and by the age of 16 knew that he wanted to become a potter. A graduate of the Tokyo Higher Polytechnical School in 1914, he worked briefly at the Kyoto Research Institute for Ceramics. Disillusioned with what he felt was an unnecessarily excessive focus on studying theory at both schools, in 1920 he built his own kiln in Kyoto, the Shokeiyo, with eight climbing chambers, began the "Kawai Factory" and to have exhibitions.

As a potter he sought to combine modern methods of manufacture with traditional Japanese and English designs. He was also an artist, calligrapher, sculptor, writer and philosopher. As a man who respected the dignity of simplicity and collected the works of poor craftspeople from all over Asia, he admired "ordered poverty" and had a profound love for the unpretentious. Kawai became a master of expressionistic techniques such as tsutsugaki (slip-trailed decoration), ronuki (wax-resist) or hakeme (white slip).  Kawai refused all official honors, including the designation of National Living Treasure, and his pots were unsigned.

Strauss, Cindi (ed). Shifting Paradigms in Contemporary Ceramics. New Haven and London: Yale University Press in association with Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 2012.

Provenance:Private Collection. Acquired directly from the Artist's Studio.

Estimate: $1,200 - $1,800
Price Realized Including Buyer's Premium


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