Held in 1964 to coincide with the Summer Olympics in
Tokyo, the International Exhibition of Contemporary Ceramic Art was Japan’s
first comprehensive survey exhibition of ceramics from around the world.
The show toured the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo; Ishibashi Art
Gallery, Kyushu in Kurume (present-day Kurume City Art Museum); The National
Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto; and Aichi Art Gallery, Nagoya, leaving on
Japanese ceramics a significant impact that was at the time described as
the “defeat of Japanese ceramics.”
Japanese ceramics of the 1960s were greatly stimulated by their contact with contemporary ceramics abroad. This exhibition focuses on these movements, examining the instrumental role played by the International Exhibition of Contemporary Ceramic Art in introducing overseas contemporary ceramics to Japanese audiences.
Exhibition 1964 presents the features of ceramics in 1960s Japan and abroad by documenting and reconstructing the International Exhibition of Contemporary Ceramic Art primarily around pieces actually exhibited, together with works of the same age, and by tracing the travels of one of the key persons in the realization of the exhibition, Fujio Koyama (1900–1975), a ceramic artist and scholar who traveled across Europe and America to assemble the works in the exhibition. The reconstruction also sheds light on Koyama’s view of contemporary ceramics, which the selection most certainly reflected. Furthermore, 1964 gathers testimonies—recollections of the exhibition by artists who participated in it or were stimulated by it, exploring in depth the influence of the International Exhibition of Contemporary Ceramic Art on contemporary Japanese ceramics.
Did the exhibition truly represent a defeat for Japanese ceramics? If it did, in what way? Through works, records and testimonies, 1964 sets out to determine the position of the International Exhibition of Contemporary Ceramic Art in the history of Japanese ceramics, examines its influence, and hopefully brings into perspective the many groundbreaking developments emerging in postwar Japanese ceramics.