Old Inspires New: Korean pottery at the Asian Art Museum

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Two weeks ago, the Asian Art Museum introduced a new exhibit on Korean pottery. “Poetry in Clay: Korean Buncheong Ceramics from Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art” is on dislply through Jan. 8, 2012. And like many of my recent faves at the AAM, this exhibit does well in showing how the old has inspired the new.

"Jar with fish and lotuses," circa 1450-1500. It was inlaid, stamped and painted with iron.

In addition to actual pieces from the 15th and 16th centuries, “Poetry in Clay” incorporates modern works inspired by the ancient craft. There are ceramics made in the same tradition, with only more modern styling. And then there are works that bring the art to modernity in concept, as well as in medium, via photography and even soap!

These mock celadon, whiteware and blue and white ware vases are actually made of soap. The detail, as well as the context -- wooden shipping crates -- play with the viewers idea of value and material and art. From the "Translated Vases" series (2009) by Meekyoung Shin.

I love Korean pottery for its embrace of imperfection, though that hails from another era entirely. Still, the modern interpretations of buncheong brought the art to life. I loved the juxtaposition, both playful and sincere, and hope the AAM brings us more of the same!

Comprised of broken celadon pottery, these pieces are from the "Translated Vases" series (2007) by Yeesookyung, who reconstructs worthless shards into new works of art.


The asymmetrical “Jar” (2008) by Lee HunChung was my favorite of all the pieces. How good it would look on my mantle!


"Mountain, Wind, Moon Jar" (2008) by New York-based artist Ik-Joong Kang incorporates images of Korean vases with mountainscapes. Moon jars, which are actually comprised of upper and lower parts fused, symbolize connection between the self and other, the north and south, to the artist.

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