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The Arts of Hon’ami Kōetsu: Japanese Renaissance Master

The Arts of Hon’ami Kōetsu: Japanese Renaissance Master

by Dr. Felice Fischer, with Dr. Edwin A. Cranston, Dr. Fumiko E. Cranston, Ms. Kyoko Kinoshita, Kumakura Isao, Saito Takamasa, and Yamazaki Tsuyoshi

“The full translation of every text makes it possible for all readers to appreciate the interplay of [image, calligraphy, and text] in the catalogue... Overall, Ms. Fischer has done a terrific job of bringing together many voices into one. The flow of the writing and its unity in style and storyline hold one’s attention even next to the captivating works of art.”
—Tony Luppino, Arts of Asia, January/February 2001

American audiences will have the rare opportunity to see outstanding examples of the work of the celebrated early seventeeth-century Japanese artist Hon’ami Kōetsu (1558–1637) in the first-ever comprehensive survey of the artist’s work outside Japan in the exhibition and accompanying catalogue The Arts of Hon’ami Kōetsu: Japanese Renaissance Master, published by the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Nearly 100 objects ranging from calligraphy, handscrolls, and printed books to ceramic teabowls, and lacquerwork will be drawn from collections throughout Japan, Europe, and the United States. A spectacular 27-foot-long scroll decorated with gold and silver wood-block designs of ivy, grasses, and wisteria, and brushed with classical Japanese love poems in Kōetsu’s calligraphy, the newest addition to the museum’s collections of East Asian art, will also be on view. This multitalented genius inspired his contemporaries and exerted profound influence on generations to come by revolutionizing the visual effects of classical poetry scrolls, working with the artist Tawaraya Sotatsu to produce striking designs, over which he wrote his distinctively bold calligraphy. Kōetsu’s interest in calligraphy led him to design beautiful lacquer boxes to hold the essential tools of East Asian writing: brush and inkstone. One such lacquer box, with a characteristically bold motif of a single deer on a striking gold and black background is in the collection of the museum and will also be featured in the catalogue.

Essays in the catalogue include “Waka and the Kyoto Renaissance of Classical Poetry,” “The Advent of Movable-Type Printing,” “Handscrolls: The Flowering of Artistic Collaboration,” “The Kōetsu Style in Lacquerware,” “Kōetsu at Takagamine,” and “Kōetsu and the History of Tea Culture.”

About the Author
Dr. Felice Fischer is the Luther W. Brady Curator of Japanese Art and Acting Curator of East Asian Art at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

196 pages (plus two 8-page gatefolds)
187 illus. (142 in color)
10 x 11 ½ inches
Cloth ISBN: 0-87633-138-X