The Unknown Craftsman: A Japanese Insight into Beauty
This book challenges the conventional ideas of art and beauty. What is the value of things made by an anonymous craftsman working in a set tradition for a lifetime? What is the value of handwork? Why should even the roughly lacquered rice bowl of a Japanese farmer be thought beautiful? The late Soetsu Yanagi was the first to fully explore the traditional Japanese appreciation for "objects born, not made."
Mr. Yanagi sees folk art as a manifestation of the essential world from which art, philosophy, and religion arise and in which the barriers between them disappear. The implications of the author's ideas are both far-reaching and practical.
Soetsu Yanagi is often mentioned in books on Japanese art, but this is the first translation in any Western language of a selection of his major writings. The late Bernard Leach, renowned British potter and friend of Mr. Yanagi for fifty years, has clearly transmitted the insights of one of Japan's most important thinkers. The seventy-six plates illustrate objects that underscore the universality of his concepts. The author's profound view of the creative process and his plea for a new artistic freedom within tradition are especially timely now when the importance of craft and the handmade object is being rediscovered.
Humble pie never tasted so good
By Jim Tolpin - March 25, 2003
Soon after getting into custom furniture and cabinetmaking as a profession, I had come to that point where I began to tie my sense of self-worth to what other people thought of my work. Even worse, I began to feel that I was in a competition with my fellow woodworkers. Not only did I want their approval, but I thought I must strive to be better than them or I wouldn't achieve distinction (and therefore success). Then, via my explorations into Buddhism, I came across this book. It presented me with a heaping, much-needed serving of humble pie by telling me things like: "A beautiful work of art...is the work of a man who is not (bound to) either beauty and ugliness or even to himself." Yanagi was talking about the craftsman of Japan's past who, working with "total disengagement", created some of the most beautiful art objects the world has ever seen. This work was never signed because these were the products of craftsman who "made no effort to express... read more
An Aesthetics Bible!
By J. English - December 8, 1999
Yanagi's words are so dense, packed, and rich with meaning. He has keen insights into what real 'seeing' is, and how necessary it is in discerning beauty. But Yanagi's words run beyond insight, and have some of that deep ring of eternal 'Truth' to them. I highly recommmend this book to anyone wanting to learn more about what true 'seeing' is, and how it relates to the perception of beauty.
A book you HAVE to read, and you'll CRAVE to own...
By Beyond-Is-Within Also - January 17, 2006
This remarkable, must-have book is half superb pictures of various Oriental objects of manufacture become recognized as quintessentially "unselfconscious" objects of art (the one of the "top" teacup in Japan alone is worth the book's price), and half short but very eye-opening essays on various dimensions of beauty, creativity, and the aesthetic experience.
MUCH generally accepted superficiality (and downright phoniness) in the field of art appreciation is solidly debunked here (read the other reviews for more on the author's qualifications, plus some relatively piddling criticism from a few specialists).
The pieces on the degeneration of the so-called "classic" Tea Ceremony and the cult of deliberate "beauty of ugliness" will provide much food for thought. Anyone interested in beauty and its representations will do very well indeed to acquire this truly irreplaceable read.
I too wish the book were 10 times as long! I believe it was out of print for... read more
The University of North Carolina Press, United States, 1995. Paperback. Book Condition: New. New edition. 204 x 130 mm. Brand New Book with Free Worldwide Delivery. An eyewitness account of life in ...