Dec 22, 2007

oh, that's just delicious

when i was in japan a few years ago, i got a lead on the original tapes and transcripts of pre-manuscript interviews with hamada shoji and bernard leach; leach being the translator of the unknown craftsman: a japanese insight into beauty (written by yanagi soetsu). i was trying to get these materials out of japan and into the collections of the fine arts library at harvard, but was ultimately foiled. in any case, the unknown craftsman's intent was to introduce the idea of considering things beautiful not because they are intentionally artful but because they express a profound (even if unintended) understanding of material, intended use, vernacular style, handcraft tradition, or technique evolution -- objects that are beautiful in this particular way are called mingei (民芸), a term introduced by yanagi and hamada in the 1920s (i think). it was very much a response to the increasingly prevalence of both industrial mechanical production and studio art; this formed a pincer in the middle of which lay the extensive system of japanese craft production. in any case, i like mingei as an idea even if most everyone else thinks it's bunk, so it's nice to see that there's now an online mingei museum dedicated to the aesthetics of the routine and the vernacular. it is, naturally, both located in and funded by the city of san diego.

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