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L’esprit mingei au Japon

Sous la direction de Germain Viatte

«The mingei spirit», this is an esoteric name for many. The catalogue that accompanies the exhibition at the museum at Quai Branly clears the subject a little. The mingei – a neologism formed by Soetsu Yanagi (1889-1961) using the words «minshu» (people) and «kogei» (arts and crafts) – is a movement of thought and design that intended to reevaluate every day, non luxurious objects, made in an artisan matrix. The mingei is a useful object, long lasting and aesthetic, an «honest» object according to the words of Yanagi in its founding text. The book gives some examples, both from the Japanese past and neighboring peoples (recipients, platters, cushions, water kettles in cast iron, aïnu clothing in elm fiber) as well as from contemporary creation. Various exceptional designers who have compared themselves to the Japanese tradition benefit from a specific lighting: Swiss artist Bruno Taut (1880-1938), American Isamu Noguchi (1904-1988), famous for his paper lamps, English pottery artist Bernard Leach (1889-1979) and Charlotte Perriand (1903-1999), whose long chair in bamboo is a European variation around this Japanese movement.

• L’esprit mingei au Japon, sous la direction de Germain Viatte, Actes Sud, 2008, 128 p., 25 €, ISBN : 978-2-7427-7849-2

L’esprit mingei au Japon - Sous la direction de Germain Viatte

Review published in the newsletter #107 - from 30 October 2008 to 5 November 2008

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