Netsuke lecture “Some Sources to Consider” by Hollis Goodall, LACMA curator, May 23

Ryusai, active late 18th century, Foreign Archer with Monkey. Wood with inlays: 11.6 x 4.0 x 3.2 cm. LACM A, Raymond and Frances Bushell Collection. Photograph © 2011 Museum Associates/LACMA

Ryusai, active late 18th century, Foreign Archer with Monkey. Wood with inlays: 11.6 x 4.0 x 3.2 cm. LACM A, Raymond and Frances Bushell Collection. Photograph © 2011 Museum Associates/LACMA

Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s Japanese Pavilion is currently exhibiting “An Eye for Excellence: Raymond Bushell’s Favorite Netsuke” through July 19.

In conjunction with the upcoming May 2011 convention of the International Netsuke Society to be held in Los Angeles, the LACMA is holding a special exhibition of netsuke from the collection of Raymond and Frances Bushell.

Of the thousands of netsuke that Bushell owned over the course of his collecting career, this installation features works that he himself favored. As one of the most active and influential netsuke collectors of the 20rh century, the works on display provide insights into Bushell’s personal tastes and his collecting objectives.

Raymond Bushell began collecting netsuke in Japan just after WWII. The availability of netsuke at the time coupled with Bushell’s collecting zeal resulted in a huge collection of miniature sculptures that exemplify the art form in all its variety.

Beginning in 1985, Raymond and Frances Bushell began loaning works from their collection to the LACMA. The first of several gifts took place in 1987 and upon the completion of the donation in 1998, LACMA had received 850 netsuke from the Bushells.

For the opening of the Pavilion for Japanese Art at LACMA in 1988, Raymond Bushell provided to the museum a list of the 150 works that were his personal favorites from among the thousands that comprised his entire collection.

Just as LACMA’s complete collection includes a broad range of examples, so too does this installation of the donor’s favorite netsuke. Displayed examples include works from the earliest period of netsuke production through the mid-20th century.

Genre scenes, revered religious figures, mythical beasts and everyday objects are among the repertoire of motifs that are exhibited.

Additionally, the immense variety of materials in which netsuke carvers worked will be evidenced in objects made from ivory, wood, and a host of more uncommon materials such as ceramic, lacquer, deer antler, boar tusk, and glass.

A lecture with the theme of “Some Sources to Consider” by Hollis Goodall, LACMA’s Curator of Japanese Art will be held on Monday, May 23, at 3:30 pm, at Bing Theater, in the LACMA campus. Admission free. Open to the public.

Goodall will discuss Edo period (1615-1868) themes and subjects as they were employed by netsuke carvers. She will discuss possible origins of these motifs, how artists working in different media conceived of shared subject matter and how those motifs were designed and executed. The use of themes from popular culture will be explored as will subject matter appearing in the form of both netsuke and illustrated popular novels.

Pavilion for Japanese Art at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art is located at 5905 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90036. Museum hours: Monday, Tuesday and Thursday 12 noon – 8 pm; Friday 12 noon – 9 pm; Saturday and Sunday 11 am – 8 pm; and closed Wednesdays.

For further information about Japanese art exhibitions at LACMA, call (323) 857-6565. www.lacma.org