During a press conference this week to unveil the Museum’s spiffy new logo I slipped away to enjoy a self guided tour of the latest exhibition, “Poetry in Clay”. This well rounded collection comprised of Korean buncheong ceramics is from the Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art.

Full disclosure: I know absolutely nothing about these beautiful well crafted Korean ceramics which look nothing like the 86 BC pots I memorized for my fine arts degree. Luckily I happened upon Docent Extraordinaire Dinny Chase. If it wasn’t for her PhD level knowledge of ceramics and my reliance on Wikipedia, you wouldn’t be reading this.

Let’s begin with the buncheong ceramic style, known for having bluish-green tones. Buncheon style replaced the previous celedon fad. During the five century long Joseon Dynasty, Korean artists started coating their pots with a white slip, painting with iron pigment. Buncheong once again fell out of favor in Korea due to the popularity of white porcelains after the 16th century. That loops us back to modern times with the current Korean buncheong revival.

Humor is clearly evident in the many renderings of turtles, elephants, birds, dogs and half fish, half dragon designs. Did you know that double fish symbolizes a harmonious marriage? The pot with the inlaid fish/dragon represents passing a high level in the civil service. I’m getting t-shirts made up immediately! But wait, there’s more.

You probably already knew that cranes represent longevity. The lotus is the Buddhist symbol of purity. The elephant ceramic in this show was used as a ritual vessel. The incised dog flask from 1450- 1500 is an excellent example of the artisan’s whimsy. Strolling around the collection you will see magnificent examples of stamping, inlay, paint, incising and carving.
The Korean bucheong collection is available for viewing from September 16th through January 8th, 2012.

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