Often the secrets of how to successfully produce a given effect are known only to members of a lineage, and are reproduced and expanded upon by future generations.
While hierarchical succession is not the only way in which artistic techniques have been disseminated (there has also been much lateral influence and cross-referencing within generations through organized bamboo art associations and exhibitions), the master-disciple relationship forms the technical and often aesthetic foundation from which a young bamboo artist begins a career—a foundation that in many cases suffuses his or her art for a lifetime., living from the early 1800s through the present, have transformed bamboo work from a sophisticated skill-driven artisanal occupation into a highly innovative art form.
• baskets by Iizuka Hosai I (1851–1915) and ten of his direct and indirect artistic descendents.
Without splitting the bamboo and working through each of the various steps oneself, one cannot get the ‘feel’ of each individual bamboo culm and thus know for what kind of piece it will be best suited.
These lineages have never before been described in a systematic way, and they provide a means of comprehending Japanese bamboo work from a global perspective.
In comparison with Japan’s other decorative and applied arts, such as ceramics or textiles, bamboo basketry is a relatively small-scale art form that requires decades to learn; most members of the younger generation of recognized bamboo artists are in their forties and fifties, following years of training and development.
A variety of baskets from the Cotsen Collection is regularly on view in the museum’s Japanese galleries (second floor), with the selection changing twice a year.
, however, approaches the collection’s masterworks in an entirely new way; the exhibition is organized around the network of master- disciple relationships through which makers of these baskets are interconnected.