On View: Decorative Art, 20th-Century Decorative Arts, 4th Floor
Across the world, modernisms evolved in distinctive ways, shaped by the social, cultural, and historical conditions of their time and place. In early twentieth-century Japan, for example, concerns about the country’s ongoing industrialization and modernization prompted a reappraisal of simple handicrafts like the bowl and lacquered bento box seen here. Led by the philosopher Soetsu Yanagi, the Mingei (or folk craft) movement shared affinities with the nineteenth-century British Arts and Crafts movement. Mingei, which continues today, was highly influential in its advocacy of humble, anonymously crafted objects made for everyday use.
Concurrently, designers such as Ubunji Kidokoro were adapting new ideas and forms using traditional materials and techniques. In 1937, as part of the Mitsukoshi department store’s efforts to promote “modern” furnishings for the home—at a time when sitting in Japanese domestic interiors was mostly done on tatami (woven rush) mats—Kidokoro presented a cantilevered bamboo chair. It was possibly modeled on the Finnish designer Alvar Aalto’s Model 31 Chair (seen nearby). Later, Sori Yanagi, the son of Soetsu Yanagi, combined industrial production with Mingei aesthetic principles in designs like the Butterfly Stool, now one of the most recognizable examples of mid-twentieth-century Japanese design.
Bent bamboo plywood
31 3/4 x 22 3/4 x 31 1/2 in. (80.6 x 57.8 x 80 cm) (show scale)
On bottom of back base: Worn and illegible oval paper label
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. William E. Baker and John D. Rockefeller III, by exchange
Cantilevered armchair in bent bamboo. The arm/leg on each side is a reverse 'C' shape of bent bamboo, a separate reinforced section in bamboo and plywood(?) is placed at each end of the reverse 'C' at the rear of the legs and near the top rail of the chair. The seat is made of several long, individual pieces of bent bamboo, bent into a compressed 'O' at the top of the chair descending down the chair to the front stretcher, the seat area is reinforced underneath with a single bamboo support at front and back; these bent bamboo pieces are held in place by a row of screws, two rows of screws placed at the top rail of the chair and a single row attached to the seat supports and attached to the front stretcher.
Ubunji Kidokoro (Japanese, 1910-1945). Armchair, Designed 1937. Bent bamboo plywood, 31 3/4 x 22 3/4 x 31 1/2 in. (80.6 x 57.8 x 80 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. William E. Baker and John D. Rockefeller III, by exchange, 2011.58.2. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, CUR.2011.58.2.jpg)
. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2011
"CUR" at the beginning of an image file name means that the image was created by a curatorial staff member. These study images may be digital point-and-shoot photographs, when we don\'t yet have high-quality studio photography, or they may be scans of older negatives, slides, or photographic prints, providing historical documentation of the object.
You may download and use Brooklyn Museum images of this three-dimensional work in accordance with a Creative Commons license
. Fair use, as understood under the United States Copyright Act, may also apply.
Please include caption information from this page and credit the Brooklyn Museum. If you need a high resolution file, please fill out our online application form
For further information about copyright, we recommend resources at the United States Library of Congress
, Cornell University
, Copyright and Cultural Institutions: Guidelines for U.S. Libraries, Archives, and Museums
, and Copyright Watch
For more information about the Museum's rights project, including how rights types are assigned, please see our blog posts on copyright
If you have any information regarding this work and rights to it, please contact email@example.com
Not every record you will find here is complete. More information is available for some works than for others, and some entries have been updated more recently. Records are frequently reviewed and revised, and we welcome
any additional information you might have.