Bamboo art in the Met’s Japanese galleries

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The Gate by Tanabe Chikuunsai IV

The Japanese galleries at the Met are like a bride — they always have something old, something new, and no doubt if you look hard enough you’ll spot something blue.  This summer, bamboo art is the overarching theme, starting with “The Gate,” an amazing construct that artist Tanabe Chikuunsai IV created for the entrance to the galleries.  It’s like stepping through the dangling, tangled roots of a banyan tree into a clearing with beautiful Buddhist statuary.

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“Dragon in the Clouds,” 1990 flower basket by Iizuka Shokansai.

Assistant curator Monika Bincsik has created a wonderful show in the permanent galleries, placing bamboo pieces in conversation with screens, paintings, sculptures, prints, kimonos,….

20170612_115219A few pieces are from the Met’s permanent collection — like this mid-19th century hanging flower basket in the shape of cicada (left).  But the focus of the show is on more recent works from the Diane and Arthur Abbey Collection.  They date from the late 19th C to the present, and while their virtuosity is astounding, it is their architectural beauty that I find most compelling.  Of course, it takes virtuosity to accomplish that…

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