First exhibition in North America to examine Seifū Yohei Ceramic Studio's output over four generations

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First exhibition in North America to examine Seifū Yohei Ceramic Studio's output over four generations
Bowl with Numinous Fungi and Kirin, 1893–1900. Seifū Yohei III (Japanese, 1851–1914). Porcelain with blue glaze, overglaze color enamels, and silver painting overlay; h. 8.3 cm, diam. 18.3 cm. The Cleveland Museum of Art, Gift of James and Christine Heusinger.



CLEVELAND, OHIO.- One of the Cleveland Museum of Art's newest exhibitions, Colors of Kyoto: The Seifū Yohei Ceramic Studio, is on view in the Julia and Larry Pollock Focus Gallery until next spring. Showcasing works in porcelain and stoneware made by the Kyoto-based studio of Seifū Yohei from the late 19th to the mid-20th century, the exhibition debuts extraordinary gifts to the museum’s collection from the James and Christine Heusinger Collection. The assemblage was strategically acquired over the past three decades with the goal of representing the full range of forms and styles produced under the Seifū Yohei name and showcasing the work of Seifū Yohei III (1851–1914), the first ceramist to be selected as an Imperial Household Artist, in 1893.

Colors of Kyoto: The Seifū Yohei Ceramic Studio features works by members of the Seifū family that reflect the ceramics culture of Kyoto, an ancient city and former capital of Japan. The artists’ engagement with Chinese forms and techniques showcased an alternative way to bring Japanese porcelain into the modern era at a time when Western cultures were leaving a major mark in Japan. The exhibition is the first in North America to comprehensively examine the studio’s output from the time of its founder, Seifū Yohei I (1801–1861), through that of its fourth-generation head, Seifū Yohei IV (1871–1951).

“Colors of Kyoto: The Seifū Yohei Ceramic Studio inspires visitors to discover the relevance of ceramics in Japanese art through a historical framework evocative of contemporary events and issues that impact people’s lives,” said Sinéad Vilbar, Janice Hammond and Edward Hemmelgarn Curator of Japanese Art. “These intricate pieces demonstrate how social, economic, and cultural factors can affect an artist’s work, as well has how governments can use art to communicate cultural values and inspire national identity.”

More than 400 years ago, ceramists in Japan first successfully fired porcelain, and from the mid-1600s, Japan took advantage of a gap in the global porcelain trade left by the temporary exit of China from the market, following the demise of the Ming dynasty (1368–1644) and the maritime prohibitions of the early Qing dynasty (1644–1912), to secure orders for its porcelains in Europe.

From the late 1800s, participation of Japanese ceramists in international expositions also became a forum for constructing national identity. While it has garnered less attention in exhibitions and publications outside Japan, there was a robust domestic market for Japanese porcelains as well, including vessels for use in sencha, or Chinese-style tea, gatherings.

The show and its catalogue also use the collection as a lens through which to analyze aspects of the modernization of Japan and to consider the history of international trade.

Exhibition Catalogue

A beautifully illustrated 200-page catalogue accompanies the exhibition, detailing the history of ceramics in Kyoto, providing biographies of artists and discussing ceramics as soft power and its role in sencha and literati culture.

Colors of Kyoto: The Seifū Yohei Ceramic Studio is funded in part with a generous award from the Japan Foundation 2023 Exhibitions Abroad Support Program.

All exhibitions at the Cleveland Museum of Art are underwritten by the CMA Fund for Exhibitions. Principal annual support is provided by the John and Jeanette Walton Exhibition Fund and by the late Roy L. Williams. Generous annual support is provided by an anonymous supporter, the late Dick Blum and Harriet Warm, Gary and Katy Brahler, Cynthia and Dale Brogan, Dr. Ben and Julia Brouhard, Brenda and Marshall Brown, Richard and Dian Disantis, the Jeffery Wallace Ellis Trust in memory of Lloyd H. Ellis Jr., Leigh and Andy Fabens, the Frankino-Dodero Family Fund for Exhibitions Endowment, Janice Hammond and Edward Hemmelgarn, Carl T. Jagatich, Cathy Lincoln, Eva and Rudolf Linnebach, William S. and Margaret F. Lipscomb, Bill and Joyce Litzler, Carl and Lu Anne Morrison, Jeffrey Mostade and Eric Nilson and Varun Shetty, Tim O’Brien and Breck Platner, William J. and Katherine T. O’Neill, Betty T. and David M. Schneider, the Kelvin and Eleanor Smith Foundation, Margaret and Loyal Wilson, and the Womens Council of the Cleveland Museum of Art.

The Cleveland Museum of Art
Colors of Kyoto: The Seifū Yohei Ceramic Studio
August 19th, 2023 - March 10th, 2024










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