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Since the Neolithic era, artisans in East Asia have coated bowls, cups, boxes, baskets, and other utilitarian objects with a natural polymer distilled from the sap of the Rhus verniciflua, known as the lacquer tree. Lacquerware was, and still is, prized for its sheen--a lustrous beauty that artists learned to accentuate over the centuries with inlaid gold, silver, mother-of-pearl, and other precious materials.
This tradition has undergone challenges over the past thirty years. A small but enterprising circle of lacquer artists has pushed the medium in entirely new and dynamic directions by creating large-scale sculptures--works that are both conceptually innovative and superbly exploitive of lacquer's natural virtues.
Featuring thirty works by sixteen artists, this handsome publication details the first-ever exhibition of contemporary Japanese lacquer sculpture in the United States, shown at the Minneapolis Institute of Art.