A Japanese Taste for Lacquer
The Klaus F. Naumann Collection

14.10.2006 to 14.01.2007

Museum für Asiatische Kunst

Special exhibition in the Klaus F. Naumann Gallery and the Galerie für Teekunst

With the kind support of The Japan Foundation and the Japanisches Kulturinstitut in Cologne.

The exhibition is the first and only joint presentation of all lacquer objects from the collection of Klaus F. Naumann, that is on permanent loan to the Museum of East Asian Art since 1999. With sixty lacquer objects, many of them sets (thus adding up to a total of one hundred exhibits), the show offers an excellent overview of the development of this typical East Asian art form. The main emphasis is on lacquer objects from the 14th to 17th centuries, particularly favoured by the Japanese, rather than the 18th to 20th century objects which, often made for export, are frequently found in European collections.

The unostentatious Negoro lacquers (so named after a temple) - everyday objects such as wash tubs, vegetable bowls, rice wine bottles and shelves from monastic and aristocratic households - are represented with over a dozen objects. They are characterized by the sophisticated interplay between black lacquer coated with red lacquer and the wood underneath shining through. Outside Japan, only the Irving Collection at the Metropolitan Museum in New York offers a comparable diversity in types and shapes. Equally important are the Kôdaiji lacquers (also named after a temple), richly gold-decorated storage boxes, food dishes and utensils from the 16th and 17th centuries. Rare objects produced for the Japanese military aristocracy round off the survey of Japanese lacquer art: a set of drums for the Nô-Theatre, saddles, containers for weapons and tea utensils as well as a small but exquisite selection of writing boxes. Also on display are lacquer objects from China, highly treasured in Japan, and examples of the lacquer traditions of the Ryûkyû (Okinawa) Islands situated between Japan and China, including some exceptionally early objects.