YANAGIHARA Mutsuo: a master piece

Dai Ichi Arts
Oct 27, 2016 2:18PM

With this striking vase, Yanagihara Mutsuo melds form and pattern into a playfully graphic whole that will not soon be forgotten. The artist was born in 1934 in Yamaguchi and taught art in the United States in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

His time in the west exposed him to the vibrant and fast-paced American art world, and here we can see the influence of Pop Art's graphic comic book style and bright, shiny color. 
Yanagihara maintains the use of his characteristic organic line, even in works such as this. Here, he seems to combine two very different materials, with the rich, earthy brown clay surface juxtaposed against the electric pop of the rubber-like yellow pattern. The result is outlandish and surprising, challenging the viewer with its unexpected spunk.

The shape of this vase is also unusual. The tall tube has an oblong form, which finishes with a small tail at the bottom. This playful detail adds to the work's overall funky character. Yanagihara has named this vase Yellow Oribe Flower Vase - what kind of flower can tame this groovy vessel?

YANAGIHARA Mutsuo 柳原睦夫 (1934-)
Yellow Oribe Flower Vase, キオリベ長筒花瓶, 1992
H36.8 x W17.2 x D14.2cm, H14.5" x W6.7" x D5.6"
Signed Mutsu 睦 at the bottom
With Signed Wood Box


Yanagihara Mutsuo's Where the Soul Resides comes out of an ancient Japanese folk belief that the spirit resides inside of an object, such as an egg, cocoon, or shell. Instead of the found objects of tradition, Yanagihara has created a beautiful vessel befitting such precious contents. Furthermore, a small rattle can be heard from inside the piece when it is lifted and moved, representing the artist's own spirit caught up in his creation. 

The bulbous lip and mysterious quality of Where the Soul Resides bears a resemblance to the surrealist works of Miro, Arp, and Picasso. Like these artists, Yanagihara's work holds a latent eroticism that is accentuated by the extravagantly organic line. But, being part of the Japanese tradition, Yanagihara has translated this aesthetic into three dimensions. Even so, the piece seems to struggle between two- and three-dimensionality: the lip juts out from a very flat, almost two dimensional surface.

 Yanagihara's work is well respected among experts, and is included in the collections of the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs; The National Museum of Art, Tokyo; the National Museum of Art, Kyoto; and the Victoria and Albert Museum.


Vessel "where the soul resides"碧釉壷 “玉の所在”, 2014

H10.7" x D5.2" x W7.8"

With signed wood Box

Signed Mutsu 睦 at the bottom

$ 3,800

Dai Ichi Arts