Young Collector Alert: Japanese Ceramics
Conventional wisdom for the new collector used to be: "Start with prints and as you learn more, graduate to painting." Today, on the contrary, another approach is build an art collection by acquiring ceramics. A good place to begin is the current show of sparkling and richly detailed enameled porcelain of Jun Takegoshi at the Joan B. Mirviss LTD gallery on New York's Upper East Side. Takegoshi's (b.1948) polychrome enamel vessels won't send you to the bank for a second mortgage. They range in price from $3,500-$13,000. Each is a little miracle of color and form, delicately painted with glaze and over-glaze. The secret to the vivid turquoise which dominates the current Mirviss show is extended firing time at low temperatures. However, the special genius of Takegoshi is his motifs---sparrows, ibis, king fishers, even dragons, each cunningly painted with individual personalities. Takegoshi doesn't just paint from nature, he imbues his creatures, the beguiling birds especially, with facial expressions ---anger, sadness, happiness, and could that be jealousy?
In order to paint on porcelain, this master uses square shapes such as boxes, incense burners, plates, and vases, using their flat surfaces as if they were canvas. Takegoshi is known as a master of kutani-ware, a centuries-old Japanese ceramic tradition. Historically, each kutani-war piece was created by several individual artisans. Some would work on forms while others painted the polychrome enamel decorations. Usually, they featured striking bold and imaginative designs, typically in a special range of colors; peacock blue, mustard yellow, eggplant purple, brick red and emerald green which covered the entire surface of the form. Takegoshi rejects that approach preferring to hand-craft each piece himself and glazing with some of the 100 glazes he has perfected. He paints delicate motifs from nature on his luminous, almost incandescent white porcelain. Some of his pieces also have tiny fringes or borders of gold, so minute you could easily miss them.
Japanese porcelain is an art form Americans are beginning to admire and collect. As young collectors become more informed and focus on the work, they are quick to realize that masterpieces like Takegoshi's are still within reach--- but probably not for long. The Met, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Victoria & Albert Museum, and Yale University Art Gallery are just some of the institutions which collect Takegoshi's work.
Mirviss is a well-know and respected dealer in Japanese art who doesn't "fake" an interest in your questions. If you are curious about one of her pieces, she will help you understand the aesthetic as well as the technique it is based on. With its pale gray-green walls, wide-planked polished floors, and weathered wood, her gallery is the antithesis of the white-walled, austere, too-cool-for- comfort spaces that dominate Chelsea. And as you might expect, the screens, scrolls, paintings, and ceramics you will find there are a treasure trove of contemporary Japanese art. Details at www.mirviss.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; 212-799-4021; 39 East 78th Street, NYC.