Split the Air: The Sensual Beauty of Japanese Bamboo Baskets

The subfamily of grasses known as bamboo is blessed with a woody stem and the ability to lift well above its own weight. The Japanese have long understood this and have made stunning art using this pliable yet strong material. For centuries, bamboo has permeated everyday Japanese life, literature and art though it wasn’t until the late 19th century that Japanese bamboo basketry became recognized as an art form that transcends “craft”. This exhibition showcases bamboo works by some of Japan’s most admired artists. The works featured include baskets and contemporary abstract sculptures that display stunning organic forms.

Monden Kogyoku (b 1916), Chidori Plaited Basket, 1950s-1960s, madake bamboo, rattan, 15 x 11 x 11 in. Private collection.
Monden Kogyoku (b. 1916), Gathered Threads, 1980s, madake bamboo, 12.5 x 20 x 18 in. Private collection.
Monden Kogyoku (b. 1916), Undulation, 2005, madake bamboo, 10.5 x 12 x 9 in, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
Morigami Jin (b. 1955), “Harmony II”, 2008, madake bamboo and rattan, 13 x 20 x 20 in, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
Morigami Jin (b. 1955), “Red Flame” , 2007, madake bamboo. H: 19.5 in, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Honda Syoryu (b. 1951), “Dance”, 2000. Madake bamboo, two sections twisted and interwined, H: 10.5 in; W: 14 in, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
Honda Syoryu (b. 1951), “Crown”, 2019, Madake bamboo, rattan, 40.6 × 33 × 12.7 cm. Private collection.
Honma Hideaki (b. 1959), Crossing R, 2019. Madake and Nemagari bamboo, rattan, 48 x 45 x 15 cm. Private collection.
Honma Hideaki (b. 1959), Flowing Pattern B, 2018. Madake, Nemagari, and Rattan, 63.5 × 94 × 25.4 cm. Private collection.
Kansai Bamboo artist, Karamono Flower Basket, Bamboo, rattan, and lacquer, Taisho era, 1910s-20s, 40 x 30 x 27.5 cm. Private collection.
IIizuka Shōkansai (1919–2004), Dragon in the Clouds Flower Basket (1990), diameter: 61 cm. Private collection.
Tanabe Chikuunsai IV (born 1973), Setting Sail Flower Basket (2015), H: 25 cm; W: 38 cm. Private collection.

Minoura Chikuhō (born 1934), Dance Flower Basket (1995), H: 41 cm, W: 64 cm; D: 28 cm. Private collection.
Iizuka Rōkansai (1890–1958), Wide-mouthed Basket with Soaring Handle, H: 62 cm; Diameter: 20 cm. Private collection.
Nagakura Keniichi (born 1952), Sister Moon Flower Basket (2004), timber bamboo, lacquer, powdered polishing stone, and clay, 51 × 43 × 24 cm. Private collection.
Nagakura Ken’ichi (born 1952), Woman Flower Basket (2004), 87 × 22 × 17 cm. Private collection.
Honda Shōryū (born 1951), Dance (2000), 50× 61 × 51 cm. Private collection.
Shono Shounsai (1904-74), Doto (‘Surging waves’), 1956, National Museum of Modern Art, Toyko. In 1967, Shono was designated as the first Living National Treasure of bamboo art.
Bamboo sculpture by Jiro Yonezawa (b. 1956). Private collection.

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