Colors of Kyoto: The Seifū Yohei Ceramic Studio
Colors of Kyoto: The Seifū Yohei Ceramic Studio showcases works in porcelain and stoneware made by the Kyoto-based studio of Seifū Yohei from the late 19th to the early 20th century. While the studio is known for the role of Seifū Yohei III (1851–1914) as an Imperial Household Artist (Teishitsu gigei’in), it has only recently received sustained scholarly attention. The exhibition is the first in North America to comprehensively examine the studio’s output from the time of its founder, Seifū Yohei I (1801–1861), through that of its fourth-generation head, Seifū Yohei IV (1871–1951). This fulsome presentation of their creations is made possible through a gift of more than 100 individual and sets of works from the James and Christine Heusinger Collection, an assemblage strategically acquired over the past three decades with the goal of representing the full range of forms and styles produced under the Seifū Yohei name. The show and its catalogue also use the collection as a lens through which to analyze aspects of the modernization of Japan and to consider the history of international trade.
Just over 400 years ago, ceramists in Japan first successfully fired porcelain, and from the mid-1600s, Japan took advantage of a gap in the global porcelain trade left by the temporary exit of China from the market, following the demise of the Ming dynasty (1368–1644) and the maritime prohibitions of the early Qing dynasty (1644–1912), to secure orders for its porcelains in Europe. From the late 1800s, participation of Japanese ceramists in international expositions also became a forum for constructing national identity. While it has garnered less attention in exhibitions and publications outside Japan, there was a robust domestic market for Japanese porcelains as well, including vessels for use in sencha, or Chinese-style tea, gatherings. Colors of Kyoto features works by members of the Seifū family that reflect both the ceramics culture of Kyoto, an ancient city and former capital of Japan, as well as the artists’ engagement with Chinese forms and techniques as an alternative way to bring Japanese porcelain into the modern era at a time when Western cultures were leaving a major mark in Japan.
All exhibitions at the Cleveland Museum of Art are underwritten by the CMA Fund for Exhibitions. Principal annual support is provided by the late Roy L. Williams. Generous annual support is provided by an anonymous supporter, the late Dick Blum and Harriet Warm, Gary and Katy Brahler, Cynthia and Dale Brogan, Dr. Ben and Julia Brouhard, Brenda and Marshall Brown, Richard and Dian Disantis, the Jeffery Wallace Ellis Trust in memory of Lloyd H. Ellis Jr., Leigh and Andy Fabens, the Frankino-Dodero Family Fund for Exhibitions, Janice Hammond and Edward Hemmelgarn, Carl T. Jagatich, Cathy Lincoln, Eva and Rudolf Linnebach, William S. and Margaret F. Lipscomb, Bill and Joyce Litzler, Carl and Lu Anne Morrison, Tim O’Brien and Breck Platner, William J. and Katherine T. O’Neill, the Kelvin and Eleanor Smith Foundation, Margaret and Loyal Wilson, and the Womens Council of the Cleveland Museum of Art.