Bamboo is an important part of the ecosystem in just about every place where we have worked over the last two decades; thanks to Roberta Smith for this:
Bamboo’s presence in Japanese art is lavishly paid tribute by the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s “Japanese Bamboo Art: The Abbey Collection.” The first show at the Met to concentrate on basketry, it celebrates the promised gift to the Met of more than 70 mostly extraordinary bamboo baskets and sculptures from the New York collectors Diane and Arthur Abbey. The group nearly doubles the museum’s holdings in this genre, joining some 80 bamboo baskets bequeathed in 1891 by Edward C. Moore.
The core of this new presentation consists of 65 bamboo works from the Abbeys’ gift, joined by nearly two dozen remaining in their collection and a handful from the Moore bequest. In a feat of orchestration, Monika Bincsik, an assistant curator in the Met’s Asian art department, has embedded this core in what is virtually a second exhibition of some 120 bamboo- and basket-themed works, including folding screens, hanging scrolls, netsuke, porcelains, stunning kimonos and a dark bronze rendering of a basket of flowers with butterflies whose complexity and artifice verge on decadent. It’s interesting to see the Met’s large Japanese galleries focused so completely on a single motif; it is sometimes right in your face, and sometimes must be ferreted out. That handscroll of acrobats? Their entire act is balancing on or with shafts of bamboo.
Occasions like this bring welcome reminders that something besides contemporary paintings and sculptures are avidly pursued by collectors, but the Abbeys are indeed collectors of contemporary (and modern) art. The baskets they are giving the Met complement the Moore bequest by being almost entirely from the 20th and 21st centuries — nearly half of the more than 50 artists represented are still alive…
Read the whole story here.