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New Acquisition

Nesting covered bowls with black glaze

This virtuoso nesting set of porcelain vessels is the work of Yagi Akira, a leading ceramic artist of his generation and a member of a distinguished three-generation lineage of Kyoto-based potters. Yagi’s father was Yagi Kazuo (1918–1978), who led a movement to use clay as sculpture, breaking with centuries of precedent in Kyoto ceramics. Song dynasty ceramic forms and glazes informed the modernist works of Yagi Akira’s grandfather, Yagi Isso (1894–1973).

Yagi Akira is known for his mastery of the aesthetic and technical challenges of wheel-thrown, glazed porcelain. In this work, ten spherical lidded bowls of progressively smaller diameters, sheathed in black glaze, nest precisely. Yagi started experimenting with nesting vessels in the 1980s and challenged himself to acquire the skills required to execute all sizes, down to the most minute, with the same exacting throwing and finishing. He had to create special tools (including a magnifying glass) to form the smallest sizes, and to glaze and fire the sets to uniform perfection. When presenting his sets, his attention extends to the spatial relationship among the graduated forms and to the formal dialogue affected by their placement.

This set of Chinese-inflected bowls joins a 1993 porcelain sculpture by Yagi, enabling the museums to represent both dimensions of his work, as well as to strengthen our representation of Kyoto ceramic artists.

Nesting covered bowls with black glaze
Yagi Akira (b. 1955)
Japan, Kyoto, 2005
Porcelain with black glaze
12.7 x 12.7 cm
Gift of Halsey and Alice North in honor of Louise Cort, S2012.1.1a-b–.10a-b

The Freer|Sackler is closed for renovation and reinstallation. The popular exhibition Turquoise Mountain: Artists Transforming Afghanistan is still on view in the International Gallery. (Enter through the Ripley Center.) Join us for our reopening celebration on October 14–15, 2017.