Unconventional Ideas of Clay and Fire
Dan Lipcan, Associate Museum Librarian of the Thomas J. Watson Library, reflects on the North's donation of research materials to accompany their gift of Japanese sculptural ceramics to the Asian Art department of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.


(pdf format)
“The Norths have another passion outside of the performing arts and restaurants: contemporary Japanese sculptural ceramics. . . . Their collection is considerable and impressive.” 

Japanese Art Society Newsletter
Summer 2012 (pdf format)
“This is one of the best, if not the best, private collections outside of Japan,” Joan Baekeland, Japanese Art Society Association Newsletter, 2012

Summer 2007 (pdf format)
“Even with those beloved ceramics on leave from their apartment, the Norths were still surrounded by . . . sculptural works in addition to the functional ones they use every day.” 

Wall Street Journal
December 5, 2006 (pdf format)
“. . . the curator Joe Earle . . . has found clusters of pieces that speak to each other . . . ”

Preview MFA Boston
November-December 2005 (pdf format)
From the bimonthly magazine for members of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

View images from the 2006-2007 exhibit at the Japan Society Gallery in New York City.

View images from the 2008-2009 exhibit at the MFA Boston.

Words from
Robert Yellin
The Japan Times:

“ . . . right now at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts (www.mfa.org), there is an exhibition entitled ‘Contemporary Clay: Japanese Ceramics for the New Century’ that is showing till July 9, 2006. The majority of the work on display is from the private collection of Alice and Halsey North, pioneer collectors who have had the yakimono itch for about 20 years now.

“They have studied, and often visited kilns and selected works of the highest quality; their collection is as good as it gets for modern forms. The North Collection has been featured in a past issue of Kateigaho International (int.kateigaho.com).”
The Japan Times
: Dec. 22, 2005

Visit Robert Yellin's information web site or his web gallery

Read more about the Norths' collection in English and Japanese (pdf format).

Joan B Mirviss Ltd

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Japan Society of New York

Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery at the Smithsonian Institution

The Gitter-Yelen Art Study Center

Yufuku Gallery

EYakimono information center

Musée Tomo Museum

Carol and Jeffrey Horvitz


Halsey and Alice North
Ceramics by (left to right, top):
Yagi Kazuo, Morino Hiroaki Taimei,
Yagi Akira.
(left to right, bottom):
Kondo Takahiro, Wada Morihiro,
Suzuki Osamu, Kuriki Tatsusuke,
Takiguchi Kazuo
Photo by Kenji Takigami
Brooklyn, NY

Ceramics by: Yagi Akira, Fukami
Sueharu, Miyanaga Rikichi

Red Vessel
Ceramics by Wada Morihiro


Contemporary Japanese
Sculptural Ceramics

''Halsey and Alice, you have played, and continue to play, a unique role internationally as advocates for the ceramic artists of contemporary Japan and their accomplishments, focusing the attention of collectors, dealers, and museums and profoundly transforming the awareness of this field of art.'' Julian Raby, Director, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, May 18, 2012.

Our enthusiastic passion for this incredible art form has been the focus of major exhibitions at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and the Japan Society in New York (see below), at which time the work by these artists spurred a high level of interest by new collectors, the press, and other institutions in this country and Europe.

We have produced and coordinated four ceramic tours to Japan 1989-1999 on behalf of New York's Japan Society. We have lectured on contemporary Japanese ceramics at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, New York's Japan Society, New York University, Colorado's Anderson Ranch Art Center, Boston's Nichols House Museum, Oregon's Portland Art Museum, Arizona's ASU Art Museum/Ceramics Research Center, and Hawaii's Maui Arts & Cultural Center. We have led tours of the collection for groups from the Art Institute of Chicago; Brooklyn Museum; Honolulu Museum of Art; Japan Society Friends of the Gallery; James Renwick Alliance; Japanese Art Society of America; LA County Art Museum East Asian Art Council; MFA Boston Visiting Committee of the Department of Asia, Africa, & Oceania; MFA Boston Museum Council; Mint Museum of Craft+Design; Portland Art Museum; and San Francisco Museum of Asian Art.

We first traveled together to Japan in 1986 to celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary. Previously, Alice had attended Miyagi Gakuin high school in Sendai as an American Field Service exchange student and Waseda University in Tokyo as part of a junior year abroad program.

Currently, we are gathering material for a book of ''conversations'' with contemporary Japanese sculptural ceramic artists to explore the special circumstances that have produced such an extraordinary body of work over the past 70 years. The first of these, ''A Conversation with Fukami Sueharu'' written with Louise Cort, appears in Fukami: Purity of Form edited by Andreas Marks (University of Washington Press, 2011), the catalogue for the exhibition that was on view March 25 to July 30, 2011, at the Clark Center for Japanese Art & Culture.

Professionally, we work together, assisting not-for-profit performing arts centers and theaters across the country with raising capital/capitalization/operating funds, strengthening their boards of directors, and doing strategic planning.

We are both MBAs and, between us, have received the Distinguished Service Award from the North Carolina Association of Arts Councils, the Chairman's Award from Americans for The Arts, and the Fan Taylor Award for outstanding service, creative thinking, leadership and significant impact on the profession of presenting the performing arts from the Association of Performing Arts Presenters.

Works from the Halsey and Alice North Collection have been exhibited in:

New Blue and White
Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Foster Gallery
February 20 to July 14, 2013
The exhibition includes three ceramic works by Kondô Takahiro (Kyoto, Japan, 1958–) from the Halsey and Alice North Collection:

Galaxy, 2001
27 7/8 x 6 x 10 ½ in. (70.8 x 15.2 x 26.7)
Box, 2001
1 1/8 x 1 1/2 x 1 1/2 in. (2.9 x 3.8 x 3.8 cm)
Box, 2001
1 1/2 x 2 x 2 in. (3.8 x 5.1 x 5.1 cm)

These works are from Kondô Takahiro's series called ''silver drops'' or ''silver mist'' (ginteki), using silver, gold, and platinum to produce tiny, bright droplets that hang on the surface of the finished vessel like dew on grass, representing what Takahiro calls ''water born out of fire.''

An Unspoken Dialogue with Japanese Tea
Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Gallery 177 
February 12, 2011 to September 23, 2012 
The exhibition included two ceramic works from the Halsey and Alice North Collection:

Flower vase from the series Sound of the Core (Shin'in), 2004 by Kakurezaki Ryûichi (b. 1950) Osafune, Okayama Prefecture Stoneware Gift from Halsey and Alice North to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 2007 Large ceramic sculpture in ovoid vessel shape with geometric asymmetrical designs and tiered mouth
Three tiered box with oribe glaze (Oribe sandanjyu), ca. 1990 By Suzuki Goro (b. 1941) Aichi Prefecture Oribe glazed stoneware with gold lacquer ''repairs'' (note – the artist ''repairs'' are original and very important to the piece) Tiers with whimsical designs of crows, lamps, nude women, geometric patterning, and black and green oribe glaze

Dr. Anne Nishimura Morse, William and Helen Pounds Curator of Japanese Art, Department of Art of Asia, Oceania, and Africa said: ''An Unspoken Dialogue with Japanese Tea has been organized to complement an exhibition and a series of programs focusing on the contemporary Japanese tea bowl to be held in the Boston community during spring 2011. Drawn from the extensive holdings of the Museum of Fine Arts' Morse Collection of Japanese Pottery and from several private collections, this show will explore the rich tradition of ceramics, lacquerware, and bamboo that have been made for the preparation and drinking of tea (chanoyu) from the sixteenth century to the present day.''

Birds of Dawn: Pioneers of Japan's Sodeisha Ceramic Movement
Joan B. Mirviss, Ltd., New York, NY 
March 16 – April 29, 2011 
The exhibition catalogue included six ceramic works from the Halsey and Alice North Collection:

Figure 41 page 65: 
Yagi Kazuo (1918-1979)
Deisho-Saisho no ita; Clay Figure – First Branch 
23.13 x 6.63 x 2.63 inches 
Stoneware with red slip and ash glazes 
Exhibited and published: Deisho Exhibition, Gallery Kochukyo 1998 p.22; EARLE 2005 p. 27. 
Halsey and Alice North Collection
Figure 42 pages 66-67:
Yagi Kazuo (1918-1979)
Fui – Yakishime paipu; Direction of the Wind – Unglazed Clay Pipes 
13.5 x 8.5 x 4.13 inches 
Unglazed shigaraki white clay 
Exhibited and published: YAGI 1980 pl. 32; YAGI 1981 pl. 16; YAGI 2004 pl. 23, p. 53. 
Halsey and Alice North Collection
Figure 43 page 68: 
Yagi Kazuo (1918-1979) 
Tetsusenbyo tsubo; Vessel with Linear Designs in Iron Glaze
8.0 x 5.13 x 4.75 inches
Stoneware with white and black glazes 
Halsey and Alice North Collection
Figure 44 page 70: 
Yagi Kazuo (1918-1979) 
Yakishime kaki; High-fired Unglazed Flower Vessel 
ca. 1958 
6.75 x 9.5 x 5.0 inches 
Unglazed stoneware Exhibited: Contemporary Clay: Japanese Ceramics for the New Century, Japan Society, New York, 2006. 
Halsey and Alice North Collection
Figure 56 page 76:
Yagi Kazuo (1918-1979) 
Henko; Flat Vessel 
ca. 1965 
10.75 x 7.25 inches 
Stoneware with brown iron glaze 
Exhibited and published: EARLE 2005 p. 24. 
Halsey and Alice North Collection
Figure 62 pages 80-81: 
Yamada Hikaru (1923-2001) 
Kieyuku tsubo; Disappearing Vessel 
20.0 x 15.0 x 4.23 inches 
Glazed stoneware 
Exhibited: Asahi Gallery, Kyoto 1976. Exhibited and published: YAMADA 1994 pl. 70, p. 155; YAMADA 2004 pl. 87, p. 64; EARLE 2005 p. 18. 
Halsey and Alice North Collection

EARLE 2005: Earle, Joe with the assistance of Halsey and Alice North, Contemporary Clay: Japanese Ceramics for the New Century, Boston: Museum of Fine Arts, 2005.

YAGI 1980: Kimura Shigenobu. Yagi Kazuo sakuhinsh? (Kazuo Yagi – a Retrospective of his Work), Tokyo: Kodansha, 1980.
YAGI 1981: Kimura Shigenobu and Uchiyama Takeo. Yagi Kazuo ten (Kazuo Yagi Exhibition), Kyoto and Tokyo: National Museums of Modern Art with Nihon Keizai Shimbun, 1981.
YAGI 2004: Uchiyama Takeo and Matsubara Ry?ichi. Yagi Kazuo ten (Yagi Kazuo – a Retrospective), Kyoto: National Museum of Modern Art with Nihon Keizai Shimbun, 2004.
YAMADA 1994: Yamada Hikaru. Yamada Hikaru sakuhinsh? (Claywork – Collective Works of Yamada Hikaru), Tokyo: Shinshind?, 1994.
YAMADA 2004: Yamada Hikaru. Takashima Kunio, ed. T?: Yamada Hikaru no Sekai (Claywork by Yamada Hikaru), Kyoto: Sekai Shis?sha, 2004.

Modern Arts from Boston's Sister City
Museum of Fine Arts Boston
December 10, 2008 to September 7, 2009
The exhibition featured 14 ceramic works from the Collection of Halsey and Alice North. Dr. Anne Nishimura Morse, William and Helen Pounds Curator of Japanese Art, Department of Art of Asia, Oceania, and Africa said: ''Celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the Boston-Kyoto Sister City relationship at this vibrant exhibition focusing on contemporary ceramics and prints created by artists in Kyoto and the surrounding Kansai region. Included are ceramics on loan from private collections and ceramics and prints from the Museum's collection. In addition, contemporary textiles by four Kyoto artists illustrate the rich melding of traditional Japanese textile traditions with innovative processes and methods.''

Japanese Ceramics for the New Century
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
October 7, 2005 to July 9, 2006

Japan Society, New York City
September 29, 2006 - January 21, 2007

The exhibition featured 103 ceramic works ''which range from painstakingly crafted porcelains inspired by Chinese prototypes, through rough-hewn vessels that revel in the happy accidents of wood-fired kilns, to ironic objets that mimic newspapers, discarded trash and body parts. Largely drawn from the collection of New Yorkers Halsey and Alice North, the selection reflects their informed taste in its bias toward works made by artists based in Kyoto who challenge the traditional supremacy of utilitarian forms in respectful yet innovative, creative, and iconoclastic ways.'' (Joe Earle, Curator of the exhibition. Former Vice President, Japan Society and Director, Japan Society Gallery, New York, and former Matsutaro Shoriki Chair, Art of Asia, Oceania, & Africa, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston)

101-page catalogue with 70 illustrations written by Joe Earle with Halsey and Alice North for the Museum of Fine Arts Boston's CONTEMPORARY CLAY: Japanese Ceramics for the New Century exhibition. Available through MFA Publications, phone 617-369-3438, fax 617-369-3459, or through the Japan Society online store.


FukCeramics by (left to right): Kishi Eiko, Sakiyama Takayuki, and (top to bottom) Mishima Kimiyo, Takiguchi Kazuo, Kiyomizu Rokubey VII, and Matsuda Yuriko.

Ceramics by Fukami Sueharu.




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