Origami Sightings - Art

Compiled by Janet Hamilton

From the OrigamiUSA Newsletter Issue 67, February 2000

Have you ever been confused about whether to look in the art or the craft section of the local bookstore or library for origami books? Have you ever gotten into a heated debate about whether origami is true art, or simply another craft that anyone with a little patience and ability to follow directions can master? Well, the sightings below should help if you are looking to make points for the origami-as-art argument. And by the way its always best to check both the art and craft section, just in case!

The cover of Koi USA Magazine, July/August 1996, V 21 Is. 1, featured Michael LaFosse's Koi (from the Koi and Sea Turtle video).

In the book, The Art of Eric Carle, there is a picture of the artist wearing a lei of cranes with what looks to be a kusudama added. The photo was taken in Japan as Carle played with schoolchildren, presumably those who folded the cranes.

The Museum of Modern Art in New York City held an exhibition of photographs by the Mexican Photographer Manuel Alvarez Bravo (b.1902). Included in the exhibition was a photograph entitled:Paper Games - Juego de Papel 1926-1927. The subject of this photograph is a close shot of a simple piece of folded paper and the shadows created by it in natural light. The photo is reproduced on page 45 of the catalog published by the museum (Manuel Alvarez Bravo, by Susan Kismaric, Museum of Modern Art, New York 1997).

At the security station of the new airport terminal in San Diego is a stained glass wall about 8' tall x 50' long called "Paper Vortex". The image is of a square piece of paper falling. As it falls it folds into a paper dart and then transforms into the large origami Crane.

At http://www.escrow.net/451.htm there is a painting based on the Ray Bradbury story Fahrenheit 451. The artist is said to most likely be Joe Mugnaini. It depicts a man made of paper holding what looks like an origami paper hat and the man is on fire. The story is about book burning and censorship. Fahrenheit 451 is the flash point of paper, the temperature at which paper will burst into flames (which is why you can boil water in a paper pot).

In Saturday Night Magazine, April 8, 1998.p. 11. There was an article called Flavour of the month - Exhibitions. Sister from another planet. This one page article by Patrick Graham is a "review" of the Art Gallery of Ontario's Andy Warhol party. - "It began when Grace Jones landed on the stage like a sister from another planet. A former model and Warhol hanger-on, Jones is the Frankenstein monster of the Milli Vanilli set, a disco diva with enough presence and power to have been a credible James Bond villain in A View to a Kill. Like some origami monster from a Japanese B movie, she came out wrapped in a giant paper dress by Issey Miyake, and began vogueing her way through her repertoire....Now everyone was standing there mesmerised by her low, hypnotic voice and those enormous eyes peering out from behind an elaborate, dragon-like headdress. Her stage persona went way beyond the Mr. Dress Up attempts of the audience."

At the Ricco Maresca gallery in Chelsea, New York City, there's was an exhibit that ended in June 1998 of the work of Arthur Ganson. His work consists of all sorts of whimsical Rube Goldberg-like machines. One machine consisted of about 10 flapping birds that moved up and down and actually flapped, with the help of the machine's arms. Ganson is also the inventor of the popular free form construction toy "Toobers and Zots".

On 10/20/99 there was a "Welcome Back" dedication ceremony for Ruth Asawa's Origami Fountains on Buchanan Mall in San Francisco's Japantown. The two cast-bronze sculptures are patterned after the "trouble-wit" pleated designs. One is about 8 feet tall and narrow, and the other is around 5 feet tall and has a wide brim center. The ceremonies honored Ruth - whose sculptures include the mermaid fountain at Ghirardelli Square, and several other pieces throughout San Francisco - and the Mall's architect Rai Okamoto. The original fountains were shut down during a drought many years ago and deteriorated. They were removed a few years ago and have now been restored.

There is a photo of a circa 1789 print by Utamaro featuring a young girl with origami cranes on her kimono at http://www.students.ncl.ac.uk/maxim.candries/origami.html. "The youth of the girl is indicated both by the somewhat arch knuckle-sucking, and by the origami bird motif on the kimono." from: R.A. Crighton, The Floating World: Japanese Popular Prints 1700-1900 Catalogue of the Exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 1973.

Copyright Janet Hamilton 2009

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