by Graham W.J.
Beal, Director and Executive Vice President
click on small images for full images with captions
Hirado ware was produced on the island of Kyushu mainly the village of Mikawachi, initially for the exclusive use of the Hirado daimyo ruler of the Hirado domain, but later for commercial distribution. While early Hirado ware was renowned in Japan for the quality of its materials and craftsmanship, after the 1830s it became an export ware, developing innovative forms and approaches that characterize the works in this exhibition
Potters of late Hirado ware drew upon contemporaneous styles from mainland China, re?creating shapes and surface details in the delicate palette and pure white porcelain of the Hirado kiln tradition. In doing so they not only appealed to local literati taste-which followed the tradition of the scholar?artist of China-but also found an eager market in the "High Victorian" West. Hirado ware was featured in the great international expositions of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, but with the advent of modernism, tastes shifted and the demand for Hirado ware greatly diminished.
Stemming from an early?twentieth?century cold?water jar (mizusashi) passed down by Mr. Kurtzman's grandmother, Allan and Maxine Kurtzman developed a personal taste for Hirado ware and within a relatively brief span of ten years created a collection of some 240 pieces. In an expression of great generosity they are giving this collection to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. On behalf of the Board of Trustees, I would like to express our gratitude for this munificence. In recognition of this wonderful gift, Robert T. Singer, curator of Japanese art, and Hollis Goodall, associate curator of Japanese art, have organized an exhibition of eighty?five outstanding works from the collection. I am grateful for their efforts. We hope that this, the first exhibition and publication by a major museum on the subject of Hirado ware, will encourage further interest in the high quality work produced at the Mikawachi kilns.