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This is a free event.

Hirata Goyo: The Birth of the Japanese Art Doll

Barry Art Museum
Barry Art Museum
Sunday, Jul 31, 2022 at 5:00 PM (ET)

On View: February 10 - July 31, 2022

Curated by Alan Pate, Japanese doll (ningyo) Researcher and Expert

When is a doll art? For the Japanese doll maker Hirata Goyo II (Tsuneo, 1903-1981), that moment of transcendence comes when the artisan first comes to view themselves as an artist, and the doll being made no longer conforms to a simple repetition of type and technique. In his quest for what he referred to as “junsui bijutsu” (pure art), Goyo once famously stated: “Creativity must be the focus. Technique is secondary. The purpose or reason behind the work comes first, and then the technique to accomplish it. What is important is the intent revealed in the work.” Goyo was a pioneer leading a country of craftsmen into the limitless world of “pure art,” in the guise of a doll.

Goyo’s own father, Tsunejiro (Goyo I, 1878-1924) was a master doll maker whose works followed time-honored traditions, utilizing skills he himself learned from earlier makers. When the younger Goyo was given the opportunity to participate in the important Friendship Doll exchange of 1927, he jumped at the chance and ultimately created five dolls for the project, each of which was declared a “revelation.” The fame his success brought him allowed him to forge ahead with his dream of creating works that allowed the Japanese themselves to view ningyo (dolls) as an art form, on an equal footing with painting, sculpture, and other traditional fine art forms.

This exhibition, the first of its type outside of Japan, explores the evolution of traditional Japanese dolls into Goyo’s larger vision, that of sosaku-ningyo or “art dolls.” Using examples drawn from the Barry Art Museum collection and selected borrowings from a private Collection we trace the contours of this transition through the specific lens of the ichimatsu-style doll. Displaying works of master craftsmen in the field, we can trace the transformation of ichimatsu from craft to art, and the stimulus given to the entire genre through Goyo’s singularly creative vision.


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All ticket orders are nonrefundable. Exchanges may be made if requested at least two business days prior to the performance for which the ticket was purchased. Exchanges are not available for discounted tickets.

Event Location
1075 W 43rd Street Norfolk, VA 23529

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