Weekly Highlight: KONDO Yuzo

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KONDO Yuzo 近藤悠三 (1902-1985)

         Dr. Sherman Lee is a legendary figure in the museum world. As the director of the Cleveland Museum of Art from 1958 to 1983, his unique vision, impeccable taste, and strong guts allowed him to amass an extraordinary collection for the museum in both Asian and Western art. His transformation of the institution continues to serve as an inspiration to museums and collectors alike. A beautiful jar by Kondo Yuzo (1902-1985, Living National Treasure) with a golden background and a cherry tree motif, is one of the highlights of the Cleveland Museum's truly excellent collection of Japanese ceramics. Here, a sister piece finally becomes available!

Although he came from a Samurai family Kondo Yuzo started studying ceramics in school in Kyoto when he was thirteen years old. He taught wheel technique to Hamada Shoji in exchange for lessons on glazes, and served as the assistant of Tomimoto Kenkichi, one of the most celebrated potters of the 20th century, a Living National Treaure. When Tomimoto told him that his wheel technique was good enough and that he needed to learn something else, Kondo went back to Kyoto and began studying painting and Western-style drawing. He sketched nature, fruits, and flowers, often drawing the same subject repeatedly. Some of his favorite subjects were the pomegranate fruit, the plum tree, and the thistle. He also visited Mt. Fuji every year to sketch the landscape in different lights and seasons.

Kondo strives to depict the living freshness of nature and the changing landscape. Like many Japanese masters, he absorbed a great deal from Chinese Song and Ming dynasty ceramics, and yet he always maintained a sense of individuality and experimentation. In 1969, rather than share a communal kiln with other potters, he had his own electric kiln built, which gave him a great deal of freedom to explore and experiment with new glazes and techniques.

In 1972, at the age of 70, Kondo created this outstanding jar. Its red and gold overglaze background provides a gorgeous setting for the rich blue and white landscape and flora. A line of mountain peaks breaks through thick clouds, surrounded by deep golden sunshine. Japan is the land of the rising sun, and that light permeates this beautiful piece and signals that Kondo is at the height of his creativity! Praise the land!

KONDO Yuzo 近藤悠三(1902-1985)
Living National Treasure
Vase with mountain pattern 山染付金彩花瓶, 1972
H30 x Dia28.5cm, H11.8" x Dia11.5"
With Signed Wood Box