Review Of "Contemporary Japanese Sculpture" By J. Koplos

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Vital and yet critically neglected, contemporary sculpture in Japan is only just beginning to receive attention in the US. This book is, therefore, timely. It is also ambitious; it introduces in 150 pages of text and illustrations of more than 100 works, mostly from 1980s, by almost as many sculptors, most of them represented by one work. The result is more a compendium than a survey, a whirlwind tour of galleries that leaves the reader dizzy. Koplos, an associate editor of Art in America, lived in Japan for five years, knows the works intimately, and writes about them with a keen eye and in vivid and exacting words. The themes by which she organizes the works provide five chapters of unequal lengths, on sculpture as material, relationship, place, time, and image; but after the first two, the categories strike one as arbitary and more confusing than clarifying. By contrast, her first two chapters are well researched and consummate in the art of summation; the first concerns Japan's cultural heritage by which the Japaneseness of contemporary Japanese sculpture is brought out in relief, and the second discusses Gutai and Mono-ha, the two movements associated with the '50s and the '60s, respectively. The illustrations, many in color, are excellent, and the bibliography, covering 86 sculptors, is very thorough. Recommended for all college libraries.


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