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Chinese Style Flower Basket by Noguchi Ushu

Noguchi Ushu

b. 1947

Flower Basket in Chinese Style

47.5 x 25.4 x 20 cm
18.75 x 10 x 8 in
Original signed box
Original lacquered water container

Noguchi Ushu pursues deep research into karamono (formal Chinese style) basketry. This elegant and sensuous diamond-shaped basket is very unusual, though the basic form is not entirely unknown. An anonymous and undated diamond-shaped Chinese basket appears in the first pages of Lloyd Cotsen’s Japanese Bamboo Baskets: Masterworks of Form and Structure (Cotsen Occasional Press, 1999). Tanabe Chikuunsai I, master of karamono baskets, made a beautiful pair of baskets with . Neither of those earlier works has the sensuousness of this one, however.

Ushu’s father and grandfather were also bamboo artists, and in his early years he entered formal exhibitions and received several prestigious commendations, including in 1977, when at age 30 he received the Mayor’s Award at the Kyoto Bamboo Exhibition, and in 1981 when he was awarded the Superior Prize in the young artists section of the Dento Kogeiten (Japanese Traditional Crafts Exhibition), the foremost national craft exhibition. In the decades since, he has worked exclusively for tea practitioners and his works are rarely found on the open market.

This very basket appears as Plate 128 in Japanese Bamboo Baskets: Masterworks of Form and Structure, the book presenting Lloyd Cotsen’s personal favorite baskets of his own collection. At that time Cotsen had arranged to give 900 baskets to the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco, this single gesture establishing Japanese bamboo art on the international stage. But in comparing the works appearing in this book to those bequeathed to the San Francisco museum, one notes that Cotsen kept a number of works to enjoy himself. These included several dozen remarkable works by Higashi Takesonosai (1915-2003), as well as this beauty by Ushu.

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