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Sheila S. Blair and Jonathan M. Bloom

Lebanese–American artist and writer. Daughter of a Greek Christian mother and a Syrian Muslim father, she was educated in Lebanon and at universities in France and the United States. For many years she taught the philosophy of art at Dominican College, San Rafael, CA. She also lectured and taught at many other colleges and universities until her retirement in the late 1970s. Also a novelist and poet, she combined Arabic calligraphy with modern language in her drawings, paintings, ceramics and tapestries. She explored the relationship between word and image in over 200 “artist books,” in which she transcribed in her own hand Arabic poetry from a variety of sources....


Iraqi, 20th century, male.

Active in England since 1976.

Born 1939, in Baghdad.

Painter, potter, illustrator. Designs for tapes­tries.

Dhia Azzaoui initially studied archaeology. He then went on to study at Baghdad’s school of fine art. He has lived and worked in London since 1976...


French, 20th century, male.

Active in France and Lebanon.

Born 1881, in Montgeron; died 1964.

Painter, watercolourist, ceramicist. Interiors with figures, landscapes, waterscapes, harbour scenes, harbour views, seascapes, still-lifes. Designs for mosaics and stained-glass windows.

Georges Albert Cyr became a painter on the advice of Guillaumin. He exhibited his works at the Salon des Indépendants in Paris from 1921. He also exhibited at the Salon d'Automne in Paris, and became a member of the society associated with it. Personal problems led him to leave France in 1934 with the intention of travelling in the Near and Far East. After spending a few weeks in Beirut, he decided to settle there and found accommodation by the sea. His studio soon became a meeting place for Lebanese artists, including Shafik Abboud, and also served as a school of art where he gave lessons in painting and art history. He also published critical essays....


Richard Cork

English painter, designer, ceramicist and sculptor. He studied at the Slade School of Fine Art between 1899 and 1903, where Wyndham Lewis was a fellow student, and then taught art at Clifton College (1907–10). It seems that Hamilton was in sympathy with avant-garde developments since he was involved ...


Phylis Floyd

French term used to describe a range of European borrowings from Japanese art. It was coined in 1872 by the French critic, collector and printmaker Philippe Burty ‘to designate a new field of study—artistic, historic and ethnographic’, encompassing decorative objects with Japanese designs (similar to 18th-century ...



Japanese, 17th – 18th century, male.

Born 1663, in Kyoto Prefecture; died 1743.

Potter, painter.

Kenzan was the brother of Korin Ogata, the great Edo painter (1658-1716), and became known first as a ceramicist. He and Ninsei Nonomura introduced a new form of richly decorated ceramic art, which was very successful in the Genroku period (...


Japanese, 20th century, male.

Born 1883, in Kyoto; died 1959.

Painter, calligrapher, potter.

Rosanjin grew up in an adoptive family after being abandoned by his mother. When he was only ten, he discovered the art of calligraphy and was deeply impressed. On being turned down by the Kyoto Municipal Art School he taught himself virtually on his own, mastering the arts of calligraphy and engraving by the age of 20. In 1915, after completing various calligraphic works in Tokyo, he travelled abroad, going to China and Korea. He returned to Kanazawa to study ceramics under Suda Seika for two years. In 1917 he settled in Kita-Kamakura as a ceramic artist. He only travelled to the West once, in 1954, for the exhibition of his work in Europe and the USA. For eleven years, Rosanjin worked in close collaboration with the owners of Tokyo’s most renowned restaurant, making all the ceramic wares used in the establishment. His work defies categorisation; he touched on many disciplines in many styles....



Japanese, 16th – 17th century, male.

Active in Kyoto.

Born 1558; died 1637.

Painter, potter, draughtsman, calligrapher, decorative artist. Portraits, flowers.

Koetsu, a great calligrapher, painter, potter, decorator and patron of the arts, played a major role in the cultured world of Kyoto in the early 17th century. At this period, the city’s great merchants, grown wealthy from trade with China, were active in the cultural life of the city, giving themselves over to the tea ceremony, flower arranging, poetry and calligraphy. Koetsu was born into this potent environment to a celebrated family of sword polishers and appraisers who enjoyed the trust of the Ashikaga governors. He received a scrupulous education and followed in his father’s footsteps, while cultivating the art of calligraphy. With Konoe Nobutada and Shokado Shojo, he is reckoned as one of the Three Brushes of the early century. His art signals a return to the elegant calligraphy of the Heian period (794-...



Japanese, 17th century, male.

Active in Kyoto.

Born 1601; died 1682.


Kuchu was the disciple and grandson of Koetsu (1558-1637) and the son of Kosa. Like his grandfather, he was skilled in the art of the tea ceremony and ceramics. He produced a book on Koetsu entitled ...


British, 20th century, male.

Active also active in Japan.

Born 1887, in Hong Kong; died 1979.

Ceramicist, watercolourist, draughtsman, painter, engraver, lithographer, designer.

Bernard Leach, the son of a colonial judge in Hong Kong, was brought up in Japan by his grandparents, who were missionaries. He came to England at the age of ten. From ...


Japanese, 20th – 21st century, female.

Active in France.

Born 4 February 1949, in Hiroshima.

Painter, draughtsman, ceramicist.

After graduating from art school in Kyoto, Mikizawa continued her training at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris. In Japan, she worked in the studio of the Japanese master Tahara and also studied the techniques of the master Kusube Yaichi. She lives in Paris and in Ramatuelle. Without detaching herself from her roots, she is very much influenced by the light in Provence. Her painting is impressionistic, while her ceramics are firmly within the classical Japanese tradition. She won first prize at the All-Japan Art Competition and several other prizes at other Osaka exhibitions....



Japanese, 18th – 19th century, male.

Born 1767, in Kyoto; died 1833, in Kyoto.

Painter, potter.

Mokubei was a potter as well as a painter and a lover of illuminated art. An aesthetic intellectual evolving within an intellectual elite steeped in Chinese culture, he was the elder son of a patron of a restaurant or brothel in Kyoto. He was attracted to the arts at a very young age and left his father’s household aged 15....


Kōzō Sasaki and Hiroko Nishida

Japanese potter, painter and scholar. He was born into the Kiya family of restaurateurs and adopted the surname Aoki only after becoming a painter. Mokubei, one of his many artist’s names, was created by combining the Chinese characters for ‘tree’ and ‘rice’ (a character anagram of his given name Yasohachi). His most familiar studio name (...


Japanese, 20th century, male.

Born 5 September 1903, in Aomori (Aomori Prefecture); died 1975, in Tokyo.

Engraver, painter, illustrator, ceramicist, calligrapher, watercolourist.

Sosaku Hanga.

First Thursday Society.

Shiko Munakata assisted his father at the family forge as a child, then became a clerk and began to paint in his free time. Together with friends, he founded an artistic society to exhibit their paintings. In 1924 he left for Tokyo to study oil painting but did not find the method congenial. Attracted by the engravings of Kawakami, he then turned towards wood engraving, but concentrated mainly on Buddhist themes. From 1928, he worked under the guidance of Unichi Hiratsuka. He set up the Japanese academy of engraving ( ...



Japanese, 17th century, male.


Born in Nonomura (Kyoto Prefecture).

Painter, potter.

Ninsei is considered the first maker of kyoyaki, a type of Kyoto pottery that was extremely successful in the 18th and 19th centuries, and is also said to have been a painter in his day. The pictorial decorations of his ceramics bear witness to his artistic abilities and are sometimes of Kano style inspiration and sometimes of Tosa style inspiration....


Shin’ichiro Osaki

Japanese painter and ceramicist. His father, Ippei Okamoto (1886–1948), was a cartoonist, and his mother, Kanoko Okamoto, was a poet and novelist. In 1929 he entered the Tokyo School of Fine Arts, but six months later he left and accompanied his parents to Paris. From the following year Okamoto studied philosophy at the Université de Paris. At the same time the paintings of Picasso had a tremendous impact on him and he decided to become a painter. In ...


Iranian, 20th century, male.

Active in the USA.

Born 1934, in Tehran.

Painter, engraver, potter. Figures, scenes with figures, narrative scenes.

Nasser Ovissi studied law and politics in Tehran and Rome before going on to prac­tise as a painter, lithographer, and goldsmith. His painting is inspired by the Iranian tradition, which he reinterprets in primitive works often enriched with calligraphic patterns. He lives and works in Washington....


Karen M. Gerhart

Japanese poet, calligrapher, potter and painter. Shortly after her birth, she was adopted by Ōtagaki Mitsuhisa who worked at Chion’in, an important Jōdo (Pure Land) sect temple in Kyoto. In 1798 she was sent to serve at Kameoka Castle in Tanba, where she studied poetry, calligraphy and martial arts. She returned to Kyoto in ...


Mark Allen Svede

Latvian painter, printmaker, ceramicist, interior designer, tage and film set designer and theorist. He was the foremost ideologue for modernism in Latvia and was one of its greatest innovators. His militant defence of avant-garde principles befitted his experience as a soldier and as one of the artists who, after World War I, was denied a studio by the city officials and staged an armed occupation of the former premises of the Riga Art School. At the end of the war he painted in an Expressionist manner: ...


Japanese, 20th century, male.

Active in France from 1951.

Born 1921, in Kita Kyushu (Fukuoka).

Painter, watercolourist, lithographer, ceramicist.

Tabuchi Yasukazu was active in the air force and navy during the last years of World War II. He studied history of art at the University of Tokyo ...