chapter  8
23 Pages

The nude, the empire, and the porcelain vessel idiom of Tomimoto Kenkichi

WithMeghen Jones

On a warm day at the Jardin Marco Polo in Paris, two young Japanese artists, Fujikawa Yuzo and Tomimoto Kenkichi, posed for a picture in front of a fountain. The date was likely April of 1910. Fujikawa was in the city to study at the Academie Julian, and Tomimoto was visiting from London, where he had been immersed in the study of stained glass and sketching objects on view at the Victoria and Albert Museum. The chapter addresses how the medium of ceramics enmeshed in the modern discourses of the nude and Japanese imperialism. It examines a major object type in Tomimoto’s oeuvre from the late 1910s onwards, the undecorated porcelain vessel, in order to reveal how a seemingly simple, white, globular ceramic jar was laden with the artist’s aspirations of modernist expression amid the backdrop of Japanese imperialism. Tomimoto anchored his discourse of form in the autonomous control over each segment of ceramics production.