The Beauty of Everyday Things
About the book
"Radical and inspiring ... Yanagi's vision puts the connection between heart and hand before the transient and commercial" - Edmund de Waal The daily lives of ordinary people are replete with objects, common things used in commonplace settings. These objects are our constant companions in life. As such, writes Soetsu Yanagi, they should be made with care and built to last, treated with respect and even affection. They should be natural and simple, sturdy and safe - the aesthetic result of wholeheartedly fulfilling utilitarian needs. They should, in short, be things of beauty. In an age of feeble and ugly machine-made things, these essays call for us to deepen and transform our relationship with the objects that surround us. Inspired by the work of the simple, humble craftsmen Yanagi encountered during his lifelong travels through Japan and Korea, they are an earnest defence of modest, honest, handcrafted things - from traditional teacups to jars to cloth and paper. Objects like these exemplify the enduring appeal of simplicity and function: the beauty of everyday things.
It would not be entirely amiss to describe Yanagi's position in Japan as comparable to that of Ruskin and Morris in England ... He left as a legacy an aesthetic and religious creed of vital importance to men and women all over the world Bernard Leach
It would not be entirely amiss to describe Yanagi's position in Japan as comparable to that of Ruskin and Morris in England ... He left as a legacy an aesthetic and religious creed of vital importance to men and women all over the world -- Bernard Leach What impresses me most in Yanagi is the strength of his vision, his direct eye for beauty. His was an immediate and intuitive faculty of an extraordinary kind -- Shoji Hamada Radical and inspiring ... Yanagi's vision puts the connection between heart and hand before the transient and commercial -- Edmund de Waal Soetsu Yanagi's unerring eye has influenced generations of makers. His notion of Zen and the art of design continues to inspire all those involved in shaping our everyday world -- Jasper Morrison
Soetsu Yanagi Biography
Yanagi Sōetsu (柳 宗悦, March 21, 1889 – May 3, 1961), also known as Yanagi Muneyoshi, was a Japanese art critic, philosopher, and founder of the mingei (folk craft) movement in Japan in the late 1920s and 1930s.
Personal lifeYanagi was born in 1889 to Yanagi Narayoshi, a hydrographer of the Imperial Navy and Katsuko.His son, Sori Yanagi, was a renowned industrial designer.
CareerIn 1916, Yanagi made his first trip to Korea out of curiosity about Korean crafts. The trip led to the establishment of the Korean Folk Crafts Museum in 1924 and the coining of the term mingei by Yanagi, potters Hamada Shōji (1894–1978) and Kawai Kanjirō (1890–1966). His theory of the "beauty of sorrow" (悲哀の美) in Korean art has been said to have influenced the development of the Korean idea of han. Following the March First Movement, Korea's independence movement in which thousands of Koreans died at the hands of the Japanese police and military, Yanagi wrote articles in 1919 and 1920, expressing sympathy for the Korean people and appreciation for Korean art. In 1926, the Folk Art Movement was formally declared by Yanagi. He rescued lowly pots used by commoners in the Edo and Meiji periods that were disappearing in rapidly urbanizing Japan. In 1936, the Japanese Folk Crafts Museum (Nihon Mingeikan) was established. He was also working together with Onta ware.
Mingei theoryThe philosophical pillar of mingei is "hand-crafted art of ordinary people" (民衆的工芸, minshū-teki kōgei). Yanagi Sōetsu discovered beauty in everyday ordinary and utilitarian objects created by nameless and unknown craftsmen. According to Yanagi, utilitarian objects made by the common people are "beyond beauty and ugliness". Below are a few criteria of mingei art and crafts: made by anonymous crafts people produced by hand in quantity inexpensive used by the masses functional in daily life representative of the region in which it was produced.Yanagi's book The Unknown Craftsman has become an influential work since its first release in English in 1972. It examines the Japanese way of viewing and appreciating art and beauty in everyday crafts that include pottery, lacquer, textiles, and woodwork. Yanagi was editor of Kōgei ('Crafts'), the journal of the Japanese Folk Arts Association, issued between 1931 and 1951.
LegacyIn 1984, Yanagi was posthumously awarded the Bogwan Order of Cultural Merit, the first to be awarded to a non-Korean.Yanagi was a considerable influence over the likes of potter Bernard Leach, sculptor Isamu Noguchi, and architect Bruno Taut.
ReferencesYanagi, Soetsu (1989). The Unknown Craftsman: A Japanese Insight into Beauty. New York: Kodansha International. Yanagi, Soetsu (2017). Soetsu Yanagi: Selected Essays on Japanese Folk Crafts. Tokyo: Japan Publishing Industry Foundation for Culture. Yanagi, Soetsu (2019). The Beauty of Everyday Things. London: Penguin. ISBN 9780241366356. ... Read full biography
|Authors:||Soetsu Yanagi Michael Brase|
|Publisher:||Penguin Books Ltd|
|Languages:||| English ||
|Publication date:||Oct. 8, 2019|
|First Publication Date:||None|
|Publication City/Country:||London, United Kingdom|