Product Description

7562        Kazuo Yagi (1918 – 1979)

A flattened circular ceramic vessel decorated in white slip with a brown glaze

Seal on the base

Kiwamebako (Wood box with attestation by the artist’s family) inscribed:

Lid: Henko (flattened vase) with seal

Lid interior: Yagi Kazuo saku (made by Yagi Kazuo), Akira kan (attested by Akira), sealed Akira*

Japan, 20th century, Shōwa period

Dimensions: H. 15cm x W. 15.5cm x D. 12.5cm (6” x 6¼” x 5”)

*This work was attested by Akira Yagi (b. 1955), a ceramic artist and son of Kazuo Yagi.

Kazuo Yagi was born in Kyoto as the son of ceramic artist Isso Yagi (1894-1973). He studied sculpture at Kyoto City University of Arts and then ceramics at Shokosho Tojiki Shikenjo (Ceramic Institution of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry). From 1937 Yagi joined Nihon Tocho kyokai (Japan Ceramic Sculpture Association) and started exhibiting work at exhibitions including the Nitten (The Japan Fine Art Exhibition). In 1948 along with two other like-minded potters Osamu Suzuki (1926-2001) and Hikaru Yamada (1923-2001), he founded the influential avant-garde ceramic group, Sōdeisha (Clay Association), a name which refers to a Chinese term meaning ‘glazing flaw’. In 1973 he was awarded the Golden Prize of Japan Ceramic Society.

Yagi is one of the pioneers of new ceramic movements, being one of the first to incorporate inspiration from Western art into practical Japanese vessels. From the mid-1950s his ceramic work became less practical and more sculptural and was referred to as Obuje-yaki (Ceramic Art Object), this new concept was starkly different from traditional Japanese ceramic vessels. A perfect example being, Zamuza-shi no sanpo (Mr Samsa’s Walk), a cylindrical work with the mouth closed and added tubular decorations, first exhibited in 1954 and now in private collection is regarded as a pivotal work in the history of Japanese ceramics. Although he brought new perspective to the ceramic world, he continued to honour the tradition of Japanese ceramics, making tea ceremony ware along with more avant-garde object works. With or without utility, Yagi’s work shows the artist’s creativity backed by his wit and humour.

Selected exhibitions:

1950     Japon : Céramique Contemporaine, Musée Cernuschi, Paris, November 1950 – February 1951

1951     Contemporary Japanese Ceramics, Museo Internazionale delle Ceramiche, Faenza

1954     Genbi-ten (Modern art exhibition), Kyoto City Museum

1959     2nd International Ceramics Exhibition, Ostend, Belgium (winning a grand prize)

1959     Gendai Nihon no Togei (Contemporary Japanese Ceramic Art), National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo

1961     Kyoto-Paris Kokan Togei, Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art, Musée national de céramique Sèvres, Sèvres, France

1962     3rd International Ceramics Exhibition, Prague, Czechoslovakia (winning a grand prize)

1963     Survey of Contemporary Japan Ceramics, National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto

1964 Gendai Nihon no Togei (Contemporary Japanese Ceramic Art), The National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto

1965     New Japanese Painting and Sculpture, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, USA

1966     1st Japan Art Festival, New York, Chicago, Pittsburgh and San Francisco, USA

1968     The New Generation of Contemporary Ceramics, National Museums of Modern Art, Tokyo and Kyoto

1970     Contemporary Ceramics: Europe and Japan, National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo and Kyoto

1971     Contemporary Ceramics: the U.S., Canada, Mexico and Japan, National Museums of Modern Art, Kyoto and Tokyo

1976     Japanese Ceramic Masterpieces, Rostock and Dresden, Germany

1977     Japanese Contemporary Masterpieces, National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo
Celebrating Thirty Years of Sodeisha Exhibition, Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art, Kyoto

1993-94 Modern Japanese Ceramics in American Collections, Japan Society, New York; New Orleans Museum of Art, New Orleans; Honolulu Academy of Art, Honolulu

2003     Isamu Noguchi and Modern Japanese Ceramics: A Close Embrace of the Earth, Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C.; Japan Society, New York; National Japanese American Museum, Los Angeles

2005-07 Contemporary Clay: Japanese Ceramics for the New Century, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Japan Society, New York

2008     Modern Ceramic Art from an International Perspective, Aichi Prefectural Ceramic Museum

2014-16 Into the Fold: Contemporary Japanese Ceramics from Horvitz Collection, Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art, University of Florida, Gainesville

2015     Ancient to Modern – Japanese Contemporary Ceramics and their Sources, San Antonio Museum of Art, Texas
Unfolding Worlds: Japanese Screens and Contemporary Ceramics from the Gitter Yelen Collection, Houston Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Works by the artist can be found in the collections of many museums including: Victoria and Albert Museum, London; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Freer Sackler, Washington; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Minneapolis Institute of Arts; Museo Internazionale delle Ceramiche, Faenza, Italy; The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo; The National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto; National Museum of Art, Osaka; Suntory Museum of Art, Tokyo; Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art; Hiroshima Prefectural Art Museum; Niigata Prefectural Museum of Modern Art; Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art; Aichi Prefectural Ceramic Museum; Mie Prefectural Art Museum; Museum of Modern Art, Wakayama; Museum of Modern Ceramic Art, Gifu.