chapter  9
20 Pages

Veiled references

The role of glaze in Japanese avant-garde ceramics
WithLouise Allison Cort

One of the iconic Japanese ceramic works of the twentieth century is the 1954 sculpture by Yagi Kazuo known as Mr. Samsa’s Walk. This work was presented in Kyoto at the Sodeisha group show in September, 1954, and then in December in Yagi’s solo exhibition in Tokyo at the Formes Gallery. Yagi’s sudden bold switch from a container whose shape and orientation were determined on the wheel to this assembled and reoriented sculpture is no more significant than the abrupt change in his choice of glaze. Indeed, the transformation of forming and glazing went hand in hand. Yagi’s early attraction to the white slip of buncheong and Cizhou wares reflected his resistance to his father’s meticulous work in Chinese Ming and Qing modes of monochrome glaze. At the same time, this mode seems to have offered him a means of decoration that he felt was within his capacity.