Drawn from the collection of The Warehouse
, Art Japan 2021-1921 features work by some of Japans most important artists of the last 100 years. The exhibition includes painting, drawing, modern and contemporary prints, silver and gold leaf constructions, as well as ceramics, basketry, textiles and recently acquired fiber art. The exhibition leans toward the contemporary but, as is so common with Japanese art, has deep roots in traditional methods and materials. With over 120 works in the exhibition from 41 artists, the art, ideas, and studio practice of each artist is shown in depth, through several works.
Jan Serr and John Shannon collected the work over the last forty years, for their own edification and study. The collection is personal. They live with these works in their home, where they are appreciated for their craftsmanship, refinement, line, spontaneity, invention and pure aesthetics. Picasso once said that there are only two types of art, remembers John Shannon: good art and bad. As collectors, we do not believe in the artificial hierarchy of the arts. We make no distinction between so called fine art, the decorative arts, or finely crafted objects. We believe that a large oil painting of a historic subject is not inherently superior to a finely crafted ceramic bowl that is new, fresh, and beautiful every day.
From the point of view of the artist, says Jan Serr, you begin with a clear mind, working in the moment. A calligrapher, for example, with a brush full of sumi ink, applies the ink directly, quickly, and confidently. First marks are final marks. Likewise, for the observer, it is important to approach each piece of art with a clear and open mind, pre-judging nothing, appreciating everything, including a crack in a glaze or the change of color in a weaving.
A special part of the exhibition is an homage to Toko Shinoda, who died March 1, 2021 at age 107. She worked with sumi ink paintings and prints, blending calligraphy with abstract expressionism. In the late 1940s and 50s, she lived in New York City and exhibited with Mark Rothko, Robert Motherwell, and others. Her work is in the Museum of Modern Art, the Guggenheim, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Art Institute of Chicago. The exhibition curator is Annemarie Sawkins, who has lived in Japan, curated several exhibitions of Asian art, and has a deep appreciation for Japanese art and design. For The Warehouse, she previously curated On the Nature of Wisconsin: 80 Years of Work by 40 Artists. She is currently in the final stages of a book on the history of Wisconsin art. The Warehouse hosts exhibitions, performances, and lectures with plans to incorporate a wider range of educational programming and performances when appropriate and permitted. The collection is available for scholars, students, and art enthusiasts. Works from the collection are also available for scholarly publications and institutional loans.