Initiated in 1920s by the Japanese collector and connoisseur Yanagi Soetsu (1889–1961), the Mingei movement elevated functional, everyday crafts to art objects. While folk arts were important sources in the foundation of the movement, Mingei’s impact goes beyond Japanese folk crafts and even beyond the artists closely associated with the movement in the mid-twentieth century. Ranging from mid-century decorative arts to contemporary designs, the ceramics, textiles, sculptures, and prints in this exhibition are seen as exceptional art works in the broad applications of Mingei. Created by artists from Japan, Korea and the US, they all share characteristics of Mingei, such as the anonymity and honest labor of the maker as well as the simplicity and functionality of the objects. Positioning Mingei within a history of crafts and crafts-making, this exhibition celebrates the legacy of Mingei as its centennial approaches.
Image: Obos I, 1956, George Tsutakawa, 1910-1997, teak, 23 1/4 x 9 3/4 in. x 8 7/8 in., Gift of Seattle Art Museum Guild, 79.7, © George Tsutakawa Estate.