Embracing Imperfection at Fairfield
Jeffrey Horvitz was already known as a major collector of French Old Master paintings and Chinese cinnabar lacquerware when his wife, Carol, came upon a stunning assemblage of contemporary Japanese ceramics in a Manhattan gallery window. She was astounded, and her visceral response set her off on more than a decade of serious collecting, amassing what is now considered to be the most important collection of its kind in the United States.
Working closely with renowned Manhattan dealer Joan Mirviss, the couple’s other aim has been to share their remarkable acquisitions with new audiences. Thirty-one choice works from Carol’s collection will be on view in the exhibition, “Crafting the Elements: Ceramic Art of Modern Japan from the Collection of Carol and Jeffrey Horvitz,” through mid-December at the Fairfield University Art Museum.
While a visitor does not have to be acquainted with Japanese aesthetics to appreciate the beauty of these objects, knowing something about the country’s long tradition certainly enhances the experience.
The advent of the Japanese tea ceremony in the 16th century, which would became a golden age, led the way to the Japanese veneration of fine ceramics made by a long succession of family craftsmen. This art form championed simplicity, naturalness, aging and irregularity, with vessels modeled manually instead of precisely on a potter’s wheel. Baking was conducted at relatively low temperatures, and the finished works were very different in appearance from high-temperature ceramics.