Shofuso and Modernism: Mid-Century Collaboration between Japan and Philadelphia

  • PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania
  • /
  • June 22, 2020

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Shofuso Japanese Garden
J. Fusco

"A Japanese house resembles the evolution of a natural form. At every point it is related to an inner motive for which it has found an exact and fitting solution, not only practical but expressive of a profound understanding of the real value of life." - Antonin and Noemi Raymond, On Japanese Residence (1935)

Shofuso Japanese House and Gardens will present the major new exhibition Shofuso and Modernism: Mid-Century Collaboration between Japan and Philadelphia, accessible both physically and digitally from September 2 - December 2020 (in accordance to U.S.COVID-19 guidance).

Shofuso at the Museum of Modern Art

Organized by The Japan America Society of Greater Philadelphia (JASGP) with support from The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, the exhibition celebrates the friendships and trans-cultural exchanges between architect Junzo Yoshimura (1908 – 1997, Japan), woodworker George Nakashima (1905-1990, US), designer Noémi Pernessin Raymond (1889-1980, Swiss French, born in Geneva) and architect Antonin Raymond (1888 – 1976, Czech), through their collaborative architectural projects. The exhibition is curated by Yuka Yokoyama and guest curator William Whitaker.

Designed by the architect Junzo Yoshimura, Shofuso was constructed for the Museum of Modern Art in New York as the third installment of “The House in the Museum Garden” outdoor exhibition in 1954, before being moved to its permanent home in West Fairmount Park, Philadelphia. Shofuso provides an authentic re-creation of what is regarded as a definitive, and highly influential, movement in Japanese architecture. In Shofuso and Modernism: Mid-Century Collaboration between Japan and Philadelphia, the creative relationships which shaped and influenced the architect’s life are explored through archival images, objects, and artifacts from Yoshimura alongside Nakashima and the Raymonds.

Prior to the Shofuso project, young architects, Yoshimura and Nakashima worked together in Tokyo at Antonin Raymond’s architectural firm in the 1930s. Raymond’s architectural firm flourished with the realization of many, now historic, building projects throughout Japan until Raymond returned to the United States in 1940. As a result of the Japanese involvement in the second world war, George Nakashima’s family was deported from Seattle to the internment camp in Idaho. Noémi and Antonin Raymond interceded and successfully vouched for the Nakashimas. It was the mutual respect for one another’s work, shared aesthetic, and philosophical temperaments that sustained their lifelong friendships, even through the most difficult of times for Japanese-American relations. 

Raymond’s drawing of Japanese carpenters (Shokunin) working at the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo in the 1920s, Yoshimura, Nakashima and the Raymonds’ architectural and design renderings from the 1930s, a toy chest Nakashima made for his daughter in the internment camp in Idaho in the 1940s, a series of archival documents from the original exhibition at MOMA and photographs from the family archive, are presented in a comprehensive online exhibition, alongside virtual tours of George Nakashima Woodworkers (New Hope, PA), Raymond Farm Centre for Living Arts and Design (New Hope, PA), and Shofuso itself.

Shofuso and Modernism: Mid-Century Collaboration between Japan and Philadelphia is on view September 2 – December, 2020, Lansdowne Dr &, Horticultural Dr, Philadelphia, PA 19131
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