While Japan’s tradition in bamboo art is centuries long, the art form has not received as much academic attention as one might expect. That being said, there are great publications about Japanese bamboo art available to those interested in learning more about this medium’s artists, works, and history. Although several of these books are out of print, they can still be found online and in library collections. We particularly recommend those written by our gallery’s founder and by our Director of Japanese Art, Rob Coffland and Koichiro Okada respectively. Here are a few suggestions to bolster your libraries:
Contemporary Japanese Bamboo Arts by Robert T. Coffland, 2000
Twenty of Japan’s leading bamboo artists are featured in portraits and through their stunning bamboo baskets and sculptures. The artists include two Living National Treasures of Japan, as well as artists of traditional and contemporary styles. The author gives the reader the necessary background information to understand how this art form evolved over the last 150 years and the current challenges the field faces. Included are beautiful photographs by Pat Pollard and portraits by Art Streiber.
Hin: The Quiet Beauty of
Japanese Bamboo Art by Robert T. Coffland
Hin celebrates the work of 37 modern Japanese bamboo basket makers. Included are two essays, one discussing Japanese baskets as an art form, and another on bamboo collecting in the west. Photographs illustrate the stunning detail of each piece. Also included is an index of artists and their biographies.
Modern Twist: Contemporary Japanese Bamboo Art by Andreas Marks
Modern Twist explores the evocative, sensual, and sculptural power of contemporary bamboo art. Although bamboo is an abundant natural resource, it is a challenging artistic medium with fewer than 100 professional bamboo artists living in Japan today. Mastering the art form requires decades of meticulous practice while learning how to harvest, split, and plait the bamboo. Modern Twist features 17 of these artists and 38 of their innovative and imaginatively crafted sculptures.
Baskets: Masterpieces of Japanese Bamboo Art 1850-2015 by Joe Earle, with photography by Bertrand Stark, 2017
This authoritative catalog features 323 works from the Naej Collection, which is especially strong in works by leading artists from 1850 to 1950, when great craft dynasties were established and first Osaka and then Tokyo emerged as major centers of artistic basketry. The catalog breaks new ground by combining dramatic photographs with a historical perspective.
ueno masao / math. / site specific / v.s.o.p. / bamboo by Ueno Fusako, published by CREO Corporation, 2023
This retrospective work of Ueno Masao, edited by his wife, is a definitive catalog of the artist’s bamboo and urushi works. As Janet Koplos writes, “In Ueno’s work one discovers simultaneously the familiarity of organic form and the comforting order of mathematical design. In every scale, his work gives evidence of process and describes repetitive movement – both of his hands in the making and of the viewers eyes in exploring the form.” This volume organizes Ueno’s work into four categories: math, with works aided by Ueno’s experience with architectural design with assistance of his computer; site specific large scale works; Very Special One Place Production (v.s.o.p.) works, created by “drawing out themes in a specific place”, and bamboo, which explores the very material he mastered.