All That Glistens at the Denver Art Museum with Zeb the Duck

Toxic tree sap becomes shiny lacquer of various colors.   Zeb the Duck and mom loved this exhibit at the Denver Art Museum.   All of the pieces on display were created during the 1900s.    Let’s take a look.

The Denver Art Museum has Japanese Lacquer

The Denver Art Museum has Japanese Lacquer

This plaque with a Persian Cat and Bumblebee was created by Itaya Koji during the period 1975-85.

Persian cat with bumblebee

Persian cat with bumblebee

Itaya used lacquer, gold, mother of pearl and wood.  In 1942 Yokoyama Ichimu created this Folding Screen with Vines and Vegetables.

Folding Screen with Vines and Vegetables

Folding Screen with Vines and Vegetables

Yokoyama used black lacquer, two tones of red lacquer with details in gold and shell inlay.

Indigenous to China, India and Tibet, the lacquer tree (Rhu vernicifera) was introduced to Japan thousands of years ago.   The toxic sap hardens into a remarkably durable, light weight and versatile substance that can be applied to wood both and basketry.   Let’s look at some more.

Next we admired this Tray with Autumn Leaves, created by the Osaka artist, Shimano Sanshu in 1952.

Lacquer tray with Autumn Leaves

Lacquer tray with Autumn Leaves

The autumn leaves are of raised lacquer in silver and bright autumn colors.   In 1935 Watanabe Shinji created this vase.

Vase by Watanabe Shinji

Vase by Watanabe Shinji

After layering orange, red and white lacquer, the carved lacquer technique was used to create an abstract design on its surface.    Next we looked at this Folding Screen with an Autumn Scene.

Folding Screen with Autumn Scene

Folding Screen with Autumn Scene

Yasutani Bisei shows plain kimono fabric drying in the autumn breeze.   Seasonal flowers and grasses in raised lacquer against neutral ground of tan-colored lacquer created this screen in 1941.

Pure lacquer is clear and amber to reddish brown in color   Different pigments can be aded to liquid lacquer to create opaque colors.   Red and black are the most traditional colors.   Once hardened, lacquer may be polished to give it a mirror like finish.   Let’s look at more and see that mirror like finish.

Here we have a pair of Hand Warmers with rabbits and ferns by Suzuki Hyosaku.

Pair of Hand Warmers

Pair of Hand Warmers

Rabbits and ferns are rendered on mirror-black lacquer with raised lacquer and inlaid lead and mother of pearl.   The gilt-copper inserts held charcoal to provide warmth.   This a Brazier.

Brazier by Suzan Sakasho

Brazier by Suzan Sakasho

This Brazier has bamboo and a poem on it.   Suzan Sakasho created this when she was 83 years old.   This reddish-brown lacquer brazier was used in the preparation of steeped tea.   I, Zeb the Duck, just learned about a Brazier.

Artists can carve into or etch multiple layers of lacquer with designs or add previous metals and other substances–such as powdered gold or silver and inlaid mother of pearl and eggshell, to make surface glisten or to add decorative touches.

Tsuihu Yozei XX created this Plaque with Mount Horai and Cranes in the 1920-1940 period.

Plaque by Tsuishu Yozei XX

Plaque by Tsuishu Yozei XX

The carved lacquer technique was used.   First you build a thick substrate of colored lacquer, then carve through the hundreds of layers to create a design in high relif, revealing different colors of lacquer at varying depths.   The artist, Tsuihu Yozei XX combined Mount Horai, the mythical island of the immortals and cranes, symbols of good fortune and longevity.   We hope you will visit the Denver Art Museum to see this exhibit.   Like many exhibits in the Denver Art Museum, we are in awe of the detail work done by the artists.   These shiny lacquer works are in a smaller area with many lights.   This is wonderful to see, but mom had trouble taking photos.   The reflections are everywhere.   This exhibit will be on display through September 7, 2016.   We have seen it twice.    It is beautiful and interesting; we think you would enjoy it also.   This would be a good activity for this rainy/snowy weekend in Denver.   For more information visit http://www.DenverArtMuseum.org   Click on Exhibitions at the top and then current exhibitions.   The Denver Art Museum is great.

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2 thoughts on “All That Glistens at the Denver Art Museum with Zeb the Duck

  1. The detail work that is in these pieces is amazing. The carved lacquer technique must take soooo long to complete. So much patience required. Grateful that they do it as it is beautiful. Thanks for reading and commenting.

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