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1 | 2012
The Invention of “Folk Crafts”: Yanagi Sōetsu and Mingei

The exhibition The Mingei Spirit in Japan, curated by Germain Viatte and Shiraha Akemi for the Musée du Quai Branly, provided the occasion to introduce a largely unknown section of Japanese art to the French public, as well as one aspect of the work of Yanagi Muneyoshi (also known by his pen name, Sōetsu) 柳宗悦(1889-1961). In this respect, the exhibition was undoubtedly one of the most interesting events devoted to Japanese art to be organised in Paris in 2008.

The approach chosen by the exhibition’s organisers – as the subtitle “from folk craft to design” indicates – aimed to illustrate the continuity between the Folk Crafts Movement (mingei undō 民藝運動), launched in the 1920s, and modern design. A large section was thus devoted to Yanagi Sōetsu’s eldest son, the designer Yanagi Sōri 柳宗理(1915-2011), and the international links established with designers such as Bruno Taut, Charlotte Perriand and Isamu Noguchi between the 1930s and 1950s.

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