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Article

Ainu  

Hans Dieter Ölschleger

[Emishi; Ezo; Mishihase]

Peoples who once lived in northern Japan and are now restricted to the islands of Hokkaido (Japan), southern Sakhalin and the Kuril chain. The Ainu live in an area that has been influenced by Chinese, Siberian and especially Japanese culture. Until the 17th century, when the Ainu began to practise small-scale agriculture in south-western Hokkaido, they subsisted by fishing and hunter–gathering. Although the gradual Japanese colonization of Hokkaido had almost eradicated Ainu culture by the early 20th century, the post-war period has witnessed a revival of Ainu culture and language.

Ainu art is characterized by the preponderance of geometric designs. Some have parallels in Japan proper, while others show similarities with motifs found in the art of the Gilyaks, their northern neighbours on Sakhalin, of the Ostyaks and Samoyeds of northern Siberia and even of the peoples of the north-west coast of North America. Human and animal motifs are extremely rare and restricted to the decoration of libation ...

Article

Gordon Campbell

Unwoven cloth made from the bast (inner bark) of a tree. It is also known as ‘tapa’, with reference to the Polynesian bark cloth made from the bark of the paper mulberry and used for clothing. There is a huge collection of Polynesian bark cloth in the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum in Honolulu. In sub-Saharan Africa bark cloth was traditionally decorated with free-hand painting applied with grass brushes, and was used for room-dividers and screens as well as clothing. Its widest application was in Japan, where bark cloth was used for windows, screens, kites, flags and umbrellas.

L. Terrell and J. Terrell: Patterns of Paradise: The Styles of Bark Cloth around the World (Chicago, 1980)M. J. Pritchard: Siapo: Bark Cloth Art of Samoa...

Article

Chinese, 20th century, male.

Active in Malaysia.

Born 1914, in Amoy.

Painter, batik designer. Genre scenes.

Modern School.

Cai Tianding (Chhuah Thean Teng) is regarded by the Malaysians as their most important national artist. He studied at Xiamen Art Academy and moved to Penang in ...

Article

Milo Cleveland Beach

(b Bombay, 1902; d New York, 1971).

American dealer of Indian birth. Following the decline of the family textile business, his father, Munchersa Heeramaneck, became an antiquities dealer and shrewdly developed a speciality in Chinese ceramics. As a youth, Nasli was assigned to the New Delhi office, but in 1922 he was sent to Paris to study and open a branch. He soon moved to New York, which became the final location for Heeramaneck Galleries. In 1939 Heeramaneck married Alice Arvine, an American portrait painter from New Haven, and she became an active partner in the business. They were responsible for the acquisition of many great works of Indian, Tibetan and Nepali sculpture, Mughal and Rajput painting, Ancient Near Eastern and Islamic art, and Central Asian (including nomadic) art by major American museums. They also formed a comprehensive private collection of South Asian art, including superlative paintings and sculptures from the Himalayan regions, and a smaller collection of ancient Near Eastern and Islamic art, both purchased by the ...

Article

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 Chinoiserie), paintings of scenes set in Japan, and Western paintings, prints and decorative arts influenced by Japanese aesthetics. Scholars in the 20th century have distinguished japonaiserie, the depiction of Japanese subjects or objects in a Western style, from Japonisme, the more profound influence of Japanese aesthetics on Western art.

There has been wide debate over who was the first artist in the West to discover Japanese art and over the date of this discovery. According to Bénédite, Félix Bracquemond first came under the influence of Japanese art after seeing the first volume of Katsushika Hokusai’s Hokusai manga (‘Hokusai’s ten thousand sketches’, 1814) at the printshop of ...

Article

Pamela Roskin

(b Tokyo, Oct 11, 1942).

Japanese fashion designer. Rei Kawakubo, the fashion designer and creator of Comme des Garçons (Like Some Boys), is best known for her often oversized, asymmetrical, monochromatic and deliberately imperfect clothing (see fig.).

Born during World War II, Kawakubo was the oldest of three children. She described her childhood years as comfortable and normal even though her parents divorced, which was unusual in post-war Japan. Her father was an administrator at Keio University, a prestigious college in Tokyo, and her mother taught English at a local high school. In 1964 Kawakubo graduated from Keio University with a degree in aesthetics that included coursework in Asian and Western art. That same year, Japan hosted the Olympics, signalling that the postwar reconstruction period was over. The boom years that followed allowed such designers as Kawakubo, Issey Miyake and Yohji Yamamoto to flourish.

After graduating, Kawakubo moved to Harajuko, a bohemian neighbourhood in Tokyo. Although she herself did not adopt an alternative lifestyle, she was attracted to her neighbours’ rejection of traditional values. Her first job was in the advertising department of Asahi Kasei, a textile manufacturer. She said of those early career years that she was not thinking of a job in fashion but rather was striving towards self-sufficiency, a goal she believed every woman should attempt and a driving philosophy behind her designs....

Article

Joan Kee

[Kim Sooja; Kim Soo-ja; Kim Soo Ja]

(b Daegu, April 24, 1957).

Korean mixed-media artist, active also in the USA. Kim studied painting at Hongik University, Seoul, graduating in 1984. That same year she received a scholarship to study art at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris. During the mid-1980s Kim became interested in employing commonly used Korean textiles in her work. Distinctively patterned and coloured, the textiles offered different formal possibilities, and early works featured various swathes cut and sewn together to form large, continuous surfaces. In 1992 Kim was awarded a residency as part of the International Studio Program at P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center in New York. Inspired by the objects collected in her studio, Kim began to use the figure of the bottari, wrapped bundles used in Korea for the easy transport of goods, in installations such as Deductive Object (1994). She also began to experiment with performance and interactive works. In Sewing Into Walking...

Article

Mai Vu

(b Hiroshima, April 22, 1938).

Japanese fashion designer, active in Tokyo and Paris (see fig.). For his Autumn/Winter 1998 collection, Issey Miyake sent all his models down the Paris catwalk in a single stream of red, knitted tubing. Unlike the typical fashion show where the season’s look is unveiled in its finalized form, Miyake’s show was a presentation of his process. In collaboration with designer Dai Fujiwara, Miyake developed a radical approach to fashion design. Utilizing technological advances in fibre, fabric and computer science, he created a system to manufacture individual garments from a single thread. The method, known as A-POC, an acronym for ‘A Piece of Cloth’, is Miyake’s solution to the complicated manufacturing methods of traditional cut-and-sew garments.

Miyake was born in Hiroshima 1938 and witnessed the destruction and devastation of his country during World War II, but also saw its rise and redemption in the following years. This strength imbued in him allowed his artistry and discipline to grow. In ...

Article

Arlette P. Kouwenhoven

(b Tokyo, October 31, 1898; d May 29, 1992).

Japanese printmaker and textile dyer. He graduated from the Kawabata School of Fine Arts in 1923 and later studied under Muneyoshi Yanagi and the textile dyer Keisuke Serizawa. After working on dyed textiles for 30 years, Yoshitoshi gradually shifted to the creation of stencil prints in the late 1950s. He developed a new and distinctive style that combined stencil printing (kappazuri), traditionally applied to textiles, and stencil dyeing (katazome). He entered one of his first prints, Kure no ichi (‘Year End Market’; 1957) in the 1st International Biennale of Prints in Tokyo (1957). The final choice between Yōzō Hamaguchi and Yoshitoshi aroused a famous debate about Japanese versus Western values. Yoshitoshi’s prints show a strong interest in kabuki theatre, which was probably due to his having been brought up by his aunt Kin Harada, who was a teacher of kabuki chanting. He also favoured folklore, village life and historical subjects, such as the Kamakura-period (...

Article

Mitsuhiko Hasebe

(b Shizuoka, May 13, 1895; d Tokyo, April 5, 1984).

Japanese textile designer. In 1916 he graduated from the design division of the Tokyo Technical College. Inspired by the bingata (multicoloured, stencil-dyed) textiles of Okinawa (see Textile, §III, 1, (ii), (d)), from 1928 he began to research them and, subsequently, the traditional textiles of other regions. His individualistic style of katazome (stencil dyeing) was the result of his involvement in the entire process, from design, stencil cutting and application to dyeing. He was deeply impressed by the writings on crafts by Muneyoshi Yanagi and contributed works to the Mingei (‘folk art’) movement. In 1931 he executed a stencil-dyed cloth design for the bound cover of the first issue of the movement’s monthly publication Kōgei (‘Crafts’, 1931–51), of which he was editor for a year.

Using such elements as natural scenes, motifs from everyday life and Japanese characters as his subjects, Serizawa established a novel, poetic world of textiles that combined an excellent sense of colour and design. In ...