I have to thank my friend Marianne Livnat, a passionate crafts enthusiast, collector, and patron for recommending the new exhibition ‘Japanese Bamboo Art: The Abbey Collection,’ at the Met. Because I did not find the image selected for its promotion intriguing enough to make my way to the exhibition, which I ultimately found surprisingly interesting, inspiring, and enjoyable. I have to start from the fact that I love bamboo, and that one of the greatest place to see bamboo is Japan, simply because is plays a central role in Japanese arts and culture (below, my visit to the famed Arashiyama Bamboo Grove in Kyoto). Bamboo is a sustainable material that has enjoyed a great revival and interest in recent years, but this show, brings the best, the most complex of Japanese basketry, focusing on bamboo as a form of art. The pieces have all been crafted between the 19th century to the present, because it is since the 19th century that bamboo has been recognized as a form of art in Japan. At the entrance to the show, a site specific enormous sculpture created by master craftsman Tanabe Chikuunsay IV, which is a great way of introduction to the extraordinary potential of the material to create artistic works and to its warm and humane quality.
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