Above: Installation of Jun Kaneko’s (Japanese, born 1942) works, Untitled (Dango) (2004–2007), glazed ceramic, Lent by the artist

Untitled (Dango) (2004–2007)

Jun Kaneko

Born in Japan during World War II, Jun Kaneko immigrated to the United States in 1963 to study painting at what is now known as CalArts in California. Soon, he began studying with influential ceramic artists including Peter Voulkos; their experiments in removing the functionality from clay in order to work expressively and abstractly led to what is known as the “Revolution in Clay.”

Now based in Omaha, Nebraska, for the last several decades Kaneko has worked on his series of Dangos—monumental, cylindrical, and triangular-shaped ceramic forms. “Dango” is the Japanese word for dumpling, and Kaneko began using it around 1982 when he successfully built four huge ceramic structures inside an industrial brick kiln. These enormous, playful, and innovative sculptures are not only an impressive technical achievement but also demonstrate his mastery of glazes. His works embody several dualities: the combination of painting and sculpture and the balancing of Eastern and Western ideas.

Featured in exhibitions nationally and internationally, Kaneko’s sculptures are also a part of museum collections around the world including the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Museum of Arts and Design in New York, the National Gallery of Australia, The National Museum of Art, Osaka, Japan, Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, England, and the MMFA. His work Untitled (Dango), 2003, is on view in the Museum’s Young Gallery.

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