People collect to connect with the past, personal and historic, to exercise some small and perfect degree of control over a carefully chosen portion of the world. The Grain of the Clay is Allen S. Weiss’s engaging exploration of the meaning and practice of collecting through his relationship with Japanese ceramics. Weiss unfolds their world of materiality and pleasure and the culture and knowledge that extends out of their forms and uses.
Japanese ceramics are celebrated for their profound material poetry, especially in relation to the natural world, and they maintain a unique place in the history of the arts and in the lives of those who collect and use them. The Grain of the Clay deepens our appreciation of ceramics while providing a critical meditation on collecting. Weiss examines the vast stylistic range of ceramics, investigating the reasons for viewing, using and collecting them. He explores ceramic objects’ relationship with cuisine as an art and as a part of everyday life. Ceramics are increasingly finding their rightful place in museums and Weiss shows how this newfound engagement with finely wrought natural materials might foster an increased ecological sensitivity. The Grain of the Clay will appeal to the collector in every one of us.
‘Weiss himself is a genuine aficionado. He writes with knowledge and enthusiasm about many aspects of Japanese aesthetics, from its core principles of seasonality, sensuality and ‘equilibrium of disequilibrium’ to regional ‘clay flavours’ (tsuchi-aji) that he interestingly compares to the notion of terroir in French wines. This book will gratify those who share Weiss’s sensibilities’ – Crafts magazine
‘The book is an engaging exploration of the meaning and practice of collecting through his own personal relationship with Japanese ceramics. It provides a critical examination of how and why we collect, encouraging us to deepen our appreciation of the art of ceramic objects.’ – Ceramic Review
Allen S. Weiss teaches in the Departments of Performance Studies and Cinema Studies at New York University. He is the author and editor of over forty books in the fields of performance theory, landscape architecture, gastronomy, sound art and experimental theatre, most recently Zen Landscapes (Reaktion Books, 2013).