Birth of the Kokufu-ten Bonsai Exhibition Series: Early Showa Bonsai Aiming for Art Museum Status

The Omiya Bonsai Art Museum, Saitama

poster for Birth of the Kokufu-ten Bonsai Exhibition Series: Early Showa Bonsai Aiming for Art Museum Status

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In 1934 a landmark exhibition of bonsai was held at the Tokyo Prefectural Art Museum (now the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum), which had come to be known as a “sanctuary for art”. Now in 2019, the exhibition continues with the 93rd opening of the Kokufu-ten Bonsai Exhibition, the most prestigious bonsai exhibition in the world. Up until the start of the Showa period, exhibitions of bonsai were the realm of hobbyists during tea ceremony gatherings or displays at traditional shops. So what path did bonsai take to be the subject of exhibitions in art museums for the general public? The truth is that tbe backdrop of the birth of the Kokufu-ten Bonsai Exhibition’s gives a view of yet to be seen modern history. In this exhibition we introduce the locus for the inception of the Kokufu-ten Exhibition. This includes the efforts at promoting the concept of exhibitions of bonsai at art museums. These efforts, dubbed “Bonsai Art Campaigning” were especially done by bonsai collector Toshio Kobayashi (1889-1972). This exhibition provides a backstage look at the birth of the Kokufu-ten Exhibition beginning with precious historical documents that tell of Kobayashi’s campaign and through documents of Fumio Asakura, a modern sculptor or great renown.

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from February 01, 2019 to March 13, 2019

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