July 30, 2007,09:54 +0900(JST) The Ataka Collection at the Museum of Oriental Ceramics, Osaka (1)
I love visiting art museums. When I was working in the UK, the late Mr. Masao Kamei, former Sumitomo Electric President, used to take me to various museums with him. Mr. Kamei himself had studied painting under the renowned painter Keinosuke Ito, and I remember seeing him standing almost immobilized for a long while in front of his favorite tableaux in the museums we visited together. As for myself, unfortunately I don’t have that kind of aesthetic sense, but I do try to make the most of every opportunity I get to appreciate art objects in the true sense of the term, embodiments of the genius and efforts of people dedicated to their art since ancient times.
Very often, art lovers become collectors, and there are indeed numerous collectors of all sorts in this world. In fact, if we don’t limit the notion of collection to art objects, we are all probably collectors of one kind or another. I’m not into collecting something myself, but when I was a local supervisor I did have the experience of acquiring paintings, after careful examination, as office furnishings for the company before the period of the ‘art bubble,’ so I can’t say I’m a total stranger to the pleasure of art collection.
For those of us who work at Sumitomo, the words ‘collector’ and ‘collection’ inevitably bring to mind two things that we contact visually from time to time and cannot easily forget.
One is the collection of ancient Chinese bronzeware and bronze mirrors acquired from the middle of the Meiji period (1868-1912) to the Taisho period (1912-1926) by Shunsui Sumitomo, the 15th Head of the Sumitomo Family. This collection, known as the Sumitomo Collection, is on display in the Sen-oku Hakuko Kan Museum in Kyoto, as well as in its Tokyo annex. I hope to talk about the beauty of this collection sometime later in this blog.
The other is the collection of Mr. Eiichi Ataka, Japan’s premier art collector, in this case of oriental ceramics, which were acquired as part of the business activity of the former Ataka Co., Ltd. Today, this collection belongs to the Museum of Oriental Ceramics, Osaka, which is located in Nakanoshima in central Osaka, and Sumitomo is very closely linked to the Ataka Collection’s presence in this museum. I hope to write about this in my next entry.