Kuruma: The Wheel in Japanese Life and Art

What goes around took a while to come around in Japanese culture. For a long time after the invention of the wheel, much of the travel in Japan was still done on foot. Once they got rolling, though, the Japanese became real speed racers, destined to become leaders in the automobile industry. "Kuruma: The Wheel in Japanese Life and Art" documents the practical, decorative, and symbolic uses of the wheel while providing an education on the culture and its aesthetics. Artifacts such as wooden waterwheels used for rice agriculture and a glazed ceramic pulley wheel designed to accent a garden well offer opportunities to discuss agricultural and domestic life. The waterwheel becomes a frequent image in Japanese art that reflects the romanticizing of rural life. The eight-spoked wheel serves as a common symbol in Buddhist culture, representing rapid spiritual change and the cycle of rebirth. The image appears on such things as a suit of armor and a lacquered altar table. Before the Japanese revolutionized the automotive industry, the fly ride in Japan was the ox cart. Because of its association with nobility, the wheeled vehicle appears as a design element on such items as kimonos and room screens. Showing concurrently, "Japanese Creative Prints: Modern Masters and Their Methods" offers abstract and nonfigurative works from the 1960s to 1980s reflecting an array of techniques and processes.

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