Living Flowers: Ikebana and Contemporary Art

June 15–September 7, 2008

Traditional Japanese culture has exerted a profound influence on the vanguard of Western art practices for over 150 years. Living Flowers explores this impulse by exhibiting works of contemporary artists alongside ikebana created by masters of the Ikenobo, Ohara, and Sogetsu schools of ikebana.

The title Living Flowers refers to the unique presence of living flowers in the galleries. The exhibition proposes that the practice of ikebana provides way to consider a range of formal, conceptual, compositional, and pictorial strategies in contemporary art, and that conversely, contemporary art can illuminate the principles and practices of ikebana.

The Japanese art of flower arrangement has its origins in fifteenth-century Japan. Over the centuries, ikebana has been transformed into a highly cultivated art form. Today it is practiced by many different schools of thought. Master practioners of Ikenobo, Ohara, and Sogetsu represent the oldest and most established sensei (teachers) in the Japanese American community of Los Angeles and have achieved high levels of certification by their respective headquarters in Japan.

The works of contemporary art were selected because they have affinities with ikebana and share mutual influences. Some of the art directly references ikebana. Other works explore similar issues of composition, ephemerality, shadow and depth, and the ornamental power of flower imagery. By exhibiting these two different spheres of art, Living Flowers highlights the connections between the cultural traditions of Japan and the West.

Bas Jan Ader | Jeroen de Rijke and Willem de Rooij | Judy Fiskin | Anya Gallaccio | Ori Gersht | Ikenobo Ikebana Society of Los Angeles | Sherrie Levine | Sharon Lockhart | Robert Mapplethorpe | Yukio Nakagawa | Isamu Noguchi | Ohara School of Ikebana Los Angeles Chapter | Gabriel Orozco | Andy Ouchi | Laura Owens | Manfred Pernice | Joe Scanlan | Anna Sew Hoy | Sogetsu Los Angeles Branch | Monique van Genderen | James Welling | B. Wurtz

The exhibition is made possible, in part, by the generous support of the Aratani Foundation, The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, MetLife Foundation Museum Connections Program, The James Irvine Foundation, E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation, The Steven and Kelly McLeod Family Foundation, Michael W. Oshima and Chiaki Tanaka, PhD, UCLA Paul I. and Hisako Terasaki Center for Japanese Studies, Pasadena Art Alliance, and Mariko Gordon and Hugh Cosman. Opening Sponsors: Kirin Brewery of America LLC, Takara Sake USA, and Raymond Vineyard & Cellar. Media Sponsors: Los Angeles Downtown News, KSCI-TV LA-18, The Rafu Shimpo, TV Fan, and Kempo TV.

Image: Anya Gallaccio, Detail of installation view In a Moment, 1997, 365 gerbera daisies

Visit the Living Flowers exhibition site for additional information about the exhibition, the participating ikebana schools, Escher GuneWardena—the award-winning architectural firm that designed the exhibition, and a list of related programs. Plus, check out the photo gallery to see weekly updates to the exhibition. janm.org/exhibits/livingflowers/

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