Galleries 241–243, second floor
This exhibition surveys the rich diversity of twentieth-century Japanese craft, encompassing Japan's first forays on the international stage at world's fairs, the heady internationalism of the 1920s and 1930s, the dynamic creativity of the post-World War II period, and work by contemporary artists. As part of a nationwide effort to foster its craft traditions over the past one hundred years, Japan has instituted a system of national competitive exhibitions, commissioned and purchased crafts through the Imperial Household Agency, and supported artists as "holders of intangible cultural property." Certain master artists, six of whom are represented in this exhibition, are awarded this designation (popularly known as "living national treasures") by the Japanese government.
Approximately fifty pieces—including ceramics, lacquerware, wood sculpture, metalwork, and paintings—are on view. Drawn from the more than seventy objects given or promised to the Museum by Frederick R. McBrien III, The Art of Japanese Craft and its accompanying catalogue serve as a guide for both the scholar and the collector in less-explored areas of Japanese art, such as metalwork of the pre-war period. The McBrien collection positions Philadelphia as one of the premier sites for the study and enjoyment of Japan's modern and contemporary craft.
Felice Fischer • The Luther W. Brady Curator of Japanese Art and Curator of East Asian Art