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Touring the Asakura Museum of Sculpture

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Touru Iwamura, Teacher of Asakura

Touru Iwamura, Teacher of Asakura

Touru Iwamura, Teacher of Asakura
Touru Iwamura, Teacher of Asakura

Touru Iwamura, Teacher of Asakura

A collection of books

1st Floor Living Space

Here is Asakura's study room. As you see, the bookshelves are filled with books from floor to ceiling, and there are many Western books. These Japanese books are Asakura's collection, but the Western books were originally owned by Toru Iwamura, an art school teacher. Iwamura was an art critic in the early-modern age, and also worked as an art journalist and then as an educator. Although Iwamura died in the early part of the Taisho Period, he was a teacher of Asakura. These Western books are valuable for studying the modern art history. However, Iwamura's bereaved family sold off the books after his death. When Asakura heard from his students that the books were sold in bulk at a used-book store in Hongo, he bought back them because his teacher's precious books would be dispersed and lost if he didn't do so. They were sold for 3,000 yen. At that time, a stately house could be built for that price. Asakura mortgaged his house, and borrowed 5,000 yen from a bank. Then, he bought the books for 4,000 yen because he thought it was hard on the book store if he bought for the original price. He also gave 1,000 to the Iwamura family, and promised to keep the books. In this way, these Western books have been kept here. He respected Iwamura highly, and created a bust of Iwamura too. We of today are very fortunate that Asakura preserved the books.

"Tsurusareta Neko," or cat pinched by the neck, is one of Asakura's masterpieces. In this sculpture, a cat is suspended by a hand. Kotaro fairly praised this one, saying that, although sculptors affiliated with Bunten created large sculptures and were proud of them, a sculpture could consist of just one finger - among those large sculptures, the cat sculpture was even better. However, Kotaro also criticized that the sculpture's arm was badly made. Later, Asakura created "Ude," or arm, that was rare sculpture by him. This one was not displayed in any exhibitions. We examined Asakura's signature on the back and estimated the period of the production. It turned out that this one was made in the period when Asakura was harshly criticized by Kotaro. It can be assumed that Asakura practiced creating an arm. At that time, Kotaro planned to study abroad again. Kotaro's first study in Europe was financially supported by his father, but the second one was not supported. Therefore, Kotaro created sculptures, including "Te," or hand, and tried to sell those sculptures. Asakura and Kotaro had a mutual friend, Shogyo Tamura, a novelist, who used to visit both their houses. Tamura told Asakura about Kotaro's plan. Although it is unknown whether because Kotaro criticized the arm, Asakura commissioned Kotaro to create a hand sculpture through Tamura. It is said that Asakura did not call Kotaro "Kotaro-san," or Mr. Kotaro but called him a son of Koun Takamura. Asakura asked Tamura not to mention his name because Kotaro would not create the sculpture if it turned out that it was ordered by him. In this way, Asakura obtained this sculpture "Te." Late in life, Asakura told his student about "Te." I directly heard the following story from his student: Asakura said that his students should look at "Te" because a son of Koun Takamura really studied Rodin. He also said that there was no sculpture greater than this one. He told his students to always place it on a shelf in the study room and examine it. As is clear from this story, Asakura highly valued Rodin, rather than disrespected him. It has become evident from various things that Asakura highly rated "Te" among Kotaro's works. I think Kotaro did not know that. It is unknown whether Kotaro heard about it. As I mentioned before, a number of sculptures can be made from an original plaster model. Although the international rule stipulates that up to eight sculptures can be made from an original model, it is definitely better to make sculptures from an original model in good condition. In this sense, this sculpture is equivalent to the first edition of prints. This is the first casting. The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, located in Takebashi also has the same sculpture that was cast in the same period. These two "Te" sculptures were finely cast. I think "Te" in the Asakura Museum of Sculpture and "Te" in The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, are most excellent ones as casts, though, in fact, a number of "Te" have been made.

His writing materials


Q. There is a sculpture based on "Te," or hand, by Kotaro Takamura.

Asakura purchased this sculpture. There are some stories surrounding this one. Kotaro Takamura and Asakura are the same in age. Both of them were born in 1883. Kotaro is a son of Koun Takamura. Kotaro was born and raised in such an environment. Since there was a grade skipping system in those days, Kotaro entered Tokyo Bijutsu Gakko at a young age and graduated from the school skipping a grade. Kotaro also studied in Europe. Kotaro had such a background. On the other hand, Asakura was country-born, and received failing grades in a junior high school. He also could not enter an art school soon after coming to Tokyo. Asakura was the same age as Kotaro, but when he entered the art school, Kotaro had already graduated from the art school. When Asakura debuted at Bunten, and earned fame receiving big awards, Kotaro came back from Europe. Kotaro was also a good writer who could point out essential things about art. I think few art critics at that time could write like him. Kotaro harshly criticized Asakura's works.

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