The Fairfield University Art Museum's exhibition of Japanese ceramics will run from June 5 through December 14, 2018, in the Bellarmine Hall Galleries.
Mizusashi: Japanese Water Jars from the Carol and Jeffrey Horvitz Collection is a focused look at modern and contemporary interpretations of the water jar form within the medium of Japanese ceramics. Used in the traditional Japanese tea ceremony to hold the water that replenishes the tea kettle, water jars can vary in size and shape. The artists whose work is on view each offer a unique vision of this object.
Visitors to the museum may remember the exhibition Crafting the Elements: Ceramic Art of Modern Japan from the Collection of Carol and Jeffrey Horvitz, which was on view in the fall of 2016. The Horvitzes’ collection, which is comprised not only of contemporary Japanese ceramics, but also French old master drawings, paintings and sculpture, and Chinese cinnabar lacquer, is shared with the public through a lending program that they have developed which collaborates with museums and curators on an ongoing basis. About 200 works from the Horvitzes’ collection of eighteenth-century French art were on view last year at the Petit Palais in Paris, and a selection of French drawings will be on view at FUAM in Spring 2019. The Mizusashi exhibition was previously shown at the Honolulu Museum of Art and the Minneapolis Museum of Art.
On view in Mizusashi are 16 exceptional water jars selected by the late Honolulu Museum of Art curator Jay Jensen and Carol and Jeffrey Horvitz from their collection of around 40 such vessels. These range in shape from simple columnar and rounded forms to organic pumpkin-shaped vessels with undulating exteriors. The surface designs also vary widely: some are simply glazed, while others are incised or applied with expressionistic brushstrokes. Many have ceramic lids that match the rest of the jar while several have shiny black lacquer lids, highlighting the contrast between the matte surface of the jar and the reflective surface of the lacquer. One bold red and black jar is displayed with its lid removed, so that the viewer can see the surprising blue color of the interior.
Mr. Horvitz became interested in collecting art in 1972 while a graduate student at UCLA. From 1976 to 1980 he owned an L.A.-area gallery specializing in modern and contemporary art. In 1983, shortly after moving to Florida to work in his family business, he started collecting French and Italian drawings because, as he says, “they were plentiful and inexpensive.” Later, he broadened his collection to include paintings and sculpture. In 1990, he met his wife, Carol, who brought an interest in Asian art to the couple’s collecting purview. Today their collection includes French drawings, paintings and sculpture spanning the years 1600 to 1850, and modern and contemporary Japanese ceramics, which they have been collecting since 2008.
In order to build their Japanese ceramics collection (which now numbers some 800 works) they make a point of visiting artists’ studios in Japan every two years. As collectors the Horvitzes are interested in artists who work with traditional forms that retain a relationship to the medium’s historical conventions, but bring a unique and fresh approach or technique to the work. They are most intrigued with pieces that demonstrate the concept of wabi-sabi, an aesthetic that values chance, imperfection, and randomness in objects and processes.
A gallery talk by Dr. Ive Covaci, adjunct professor of art history, is planned for October. Please visit the museum website for information on this and other programs and events relating to this exhibition.
Fairfield University Art Museum’s Bellarmine Hall Galleries arelocated in Bellarmine Hall on the campus of Fairfield University, 200 Barlow Road, Fairfield, Connecticut. The museum is open to the public Tuesday through Thursday, 11 a.m. - 4 p.m. in June. Tuesday through Thursday, 11 a.m. - 3 p.m. in July, and is closed in August. The museum is open Monday through Friday 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. (one Saturday per month) when the University is in session. Admission is free. Please consult the museum website for details.