Just In: Jun Kaneko Ceramics
July 16, 2012
Painting during the day and attending school at night, Jun Kaneko completed his high school degree at the urging of his painting teacher, Satoshi Ogawa. By the early 1960s however, Kaneko was exhausted, so exhausted that he had no desire to continue his studies in the rigid Japanese education system. His parents, however, had no connections outside of Japan. Fortunately, Ogawa’s friend in Los Angeles, the sculptor Jerry Rothman, agreed to help the young painter find his way in America. Rothman picked him up from the airport and brought him to the house of Fred Marer, math department head at Los Angeles City College and avid ceramics collector. Unable to speak English, Kaneko found himself silently eating dinner with Rothman and Mary and Fred Marer, the three Angelenos that would introduce him to the medium he would later master.
Later that summer, Fred and Mary asked Kaneko if he could house-sit while they traveled to Europe for a few weeks. Kaneko took this opportunity to explore Fred’s extensive ceramics collection. The Marers returned to find their once cluttered garage completely transformed. Kaneko had spent his time constructing shelves and organizing the more than 900 pieces. This initial exposure to ceramics instilled a desire to expand his abilities beyond painting, and after a year of drawing, printmaking, and painting at Chouinard under Emerson Woelffer, he asked Jerry Rothman for a ceramics apprenticeship at his Long Beach studio.
In the summer of 1964, Kaneko occupied a small corner of Rothman’s studio, just enough space for his bed and his first ceramic works. Kaneko describes his nascent pieces: “You know, that’s the easiest, just pound it flat and paint on it a painting. I’m sort of used to it, so I was just making a canvas out of clay.” Impressed by his work, Rothman later sent a few of his pieces to a national ceramics competition. Between 1965-70, Kaneko exclusively studied ceramics at Chouinard, the University of California, Berkeley under Peter Voulkos, and Claremont Graduate School under Paul Soldner.
LAMA has just received six of Kaneko’s earliest ceramics that narrate a period of growing fascination with the form. The bold and playful blues and yellows of the goblets, large bowl, and flat vase (1967) evoke Hans Arp’s amorphous cutouts while the large vase (1965) resembles the mythological characters from Picasso’s ceramics. These looser forms contrast with Kaneko’s larger works of continuous pattern and immense beauty, yet his figural simplicity and painterly strokes foreshadow his later masterpieces.
Literature: McInnes, Mary Drach. “Oral History Interview with Jun Kaneko.” 23-24 May 2005. Archives of American Art. Web. 15 July 2012.
- Paul Des Marais, Contributing Writer
Jun Kaneko, Large Bowl, Signed, Estimate $1,500 – 2,000
Jun Kaneko, Goblets (3), Estimate $2,500 – 3,500
Jun Kaneko, Vase, 1967, Signed and dated, Estimate $1,000 – 1,500
Jun Kaneko, Vase, 1965, Signed and dated, Estimate $3,000 – 5,000
Each to be offered in the October 7, 2012 Auction