Bamboo Masterworks: Japanese Baskets from the Lloyd Cotsen Collection

Bamboo Masterworks: Japanese Baskets from the Lloyd Cotsen Collection

November 3, 2001 – January 13, 2002

We are very excited to announce the opening of the new exhibition entitled Bamboo Masterworks: Japanese Baskets from the Lloyd Cotsen Collection at USC Pacific Asia Museum from November 3, 2001 through January 13, 2002. The exhibition features one hundred exquisite baskets from one of the world’s most important collections, that of Los Angeles-based collector, Lloyd E. Cotsen. The exhibition is currently touring the United States, and USC Pacific Asia Museum will be its only Southern California venue.

Japanese bamboo baskets have long been regarded by objects of great sophistication and beauty. Many of the baskets in the Cotsen collection were originally made to hold flowers for the informal tea ceremony. Among the objects featured is a spherical flower container of breathtaking delicacy, made in the 19th century by Suzuki Kyokushosai (c. 1872–1936); its shape, created by open wickerwork plating, recalls a Japanese lantern. Another is a non-traditional, abstract “basket,” dated 1956, by Maeda Chikubosai II (b. 1917) from a single continuous piece of bamboo, which folds in on itself like a wave returning to its source. Three of the masters whose works are on display have been designated as “Living National Treasures,” the highest honor Japan bestows on its artists.

In explaining the appeal of baskets, Mr. Cotsen says: “I was attracted by the tensions created by the balancing of forces: of cohesion and chaos, structure and nature, refinement and exuberance, and, ultimately, simplicity and complexity.” Mr. Cotsen, the former CEO of Neutrogena Corporation, assembled his collection during the course of what he calls a “forty-year love affair” with Japanese baskets.

The exhibition was curated by Mary Hunt Kahlenberg, a well known authority on Japanese bamboo artists. To help introduce visitors to the techniques of bamboo basket weaving, the exhibition includes an educational section with examples of bamboo as a material, explanations of the process of making baskets from start to finish, and a video about the technique and the spirit of Japanese basketry, featuring one of the basket makers, Shono Shounsai (1904–1974).


Related Programs:

Collector’s Walkthrough
Saturday, December 1, 2:00pm
Lloyd Cotsen, owner of the Japanese bamboo basket exhibition and founder of the Cotsen Bamboo Prize, will give a walkthrough of the exhibition and discuss his 40-year love affair with this exquisite art form.

Basketmaking Workshop
Sunday, December 2, 11:00am-2:00pm
Rose Figueroa, expert in Native American basket weaving, will conduct a three hour workshop during which participants will learn to create a basket using traditional techniques. Materials provided.

Lecture: The History of Japanese Bamboo Art as seen through the Lloyd E. Cotsen Collection
Saturday, December 15, 1:00pm
Bamboo has been used in many Japanese art forms for centuries. Mr. Coffland, author of Contemporary Japanese Bamboo Arts (Art Media Resources, Chicago, 1999), will speak on flower baskets and other bamboo art forms.

Tours and Basketmaking Workshops for School Groups
For a limited time, USC Pacific Asia Museum will offer special docent tours of the Bamboo Masterworksexhibition followed by basketmaking workshops to Pasadena-area elementary and middle school groups. The workshops will be led by Rose Figueroa, expert in Native American basketmaking techniques. This program will be offered from 10:00am12:00pm on Thursdays and Fridays (November 8,9,15,16,29,30 and December 6,7,13,14) for school groups of up to 30 children. All materials will be provided.