280909: MAK-Applied Arts/Contemporary Art: Meiji. Japan around 1900

MAK-Applied Arts/Contemporary Art: Meiji. Japan around 1900 Undisclosed The Japanese word “Meiji” means “Enlightened Rule”. This was the motto under which the then only 16-year old Emperor Mutsuhito succeeded the throne in 1868 and under which he opened his country to western influence, Japan emerged into one of the great powers in the world. The MAK presents art works from the Meiji-era, which partly stem from its own inventory, dating back to the 1973 Vienna World Expo, but the majority are parts of private Japanese collections. Among them are both noble as well as bizarre works of art: a top-cupboard made of black lacquer with landscapes, birds and flowers in gold lacquer, a food bowl depicting a river landscape, a wooden writing casket with a gold and silver lacquered relief on a gold background, and a cassette with wooden inlaying – they all correspond to the plain elegance, which one commonly associates with Japan. Extravagant and grotesque in comparison: the stoneware vases, with jolly frogs bustling around; the vase resembling an elephant, or clay teapots, so crudely manufactured that one still sees the fingerprints, including bizarre little animals. One would like to know more about these objects, but there is not much more available than the technical data. Altogether, the presentation subverts the quality of the exhibition: upon entering the space it is not clear where the show begins and where it ends. Some of the large vases are displayed in such an awkward way, that a closer look at them is impossible; and the explanatory text simply states that the comparison between the “official” objects (those presented by the state of Japan at the World Expo), and those from private collections “is insightful” – there is a total lack of more detailed information or an adequate spatial presentation. What remains is an exhibition with fine, exciting, unusual, and noble pieces – and an insufficient disclosure By Nina Schedlmayer MAK-Applied Arts/Contemporary Art 1010 Vienna, Stubenring 5, until 04.10.09 www.mak.at

MAK - Museum für angewandte Kunst
1010 Wien, Stubenring 5
Tel: +43 1 711 36-0, Fax: +43 1 713 10 26
Email: office@mak.at
Öffnungszeiten: Di 10-21, Mi-So 10-18 h

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