Photograph of Seizo Sugawara, 1900s, EG:2003.551, Eileen Gray Collection II

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This presentation will consider influence of the Japanese sculptor and lacquer specialist, Seizo Sugawara (1884 – 1937) on Eileen Gray (1878 – 1976) in the context of the pervasiveness of Japonisme. Gray is best known for her pioneering work in early modernist architecture. Less well known is her acclaimed earlier career as a lacquer furniture designer. The presentation reveals Gray’s fine appreciation of the unique characteristics of Japanese lacquer.

Meet the Speakers:

Ruth Starr is an Art Historian of Trinity College Dublin, lecturing in History of Japanese Art and Architecture, from the earliest times to the 20th century. Her current research seeks to untangle the web of connections linking Japanese art and European art, following the common thread of lacquerware and how these links were manifest in Ireland during the late 19th Century Japonisme movement, particularly the Japanese influence on Eileen Gray, (1878- 1976). At Centre Pompidou, Paris, she was the principal consultant on Gray’s lacquer maître Sugawara, Seizo for the 2013 Eileen Gray exhibition.

For Trinity College, Ruth instigated, devised and delivers a non-western art course with teaching focused on the Arts of Japan. She has taught in Matsue, Japan; she is a guest lecturer at major cultural institutions, including the National Museum of Ireland, the Chester Beatty Library and Gallery of Oriental Art and National College of Art and Design

Emma Cormack is Associate Curator at Bard Graduate Center and the curatorial and editorial assistant on the Eileen Gray project.