The world of Netsuke
Since the traditional Japanese dress, the kimono, does not have pockets, the Japanese used as early as the 17th century small objects carved from various materials - NETSUKE - to attach utensils such as inro or pipe holder by means of a cord to the obi, the Japanese belt. The string passes through two holes called himotoshi in the netsuke and connects it below the belt to the corresponding sagemono the "hanging thing".
When, after a long isolation, Japan opened up to the West in the mid-19th century, the Japanese began to dress in the Western style, and the netsuke lost its significance. Nevertheless, they continued to be carved by artists, the netsukeshi, throughout the Meiji period, and thus became popular art objects. As such, they quickly attracted the attention ( and desire) of Western foreigners, especially the merchants who flocked to the country in ever-increasing numbers since the opening, and who enthusiastically purchased them, thus establishing the basis for the first collections in the United States and Europe.
Each netsuke is unique and a masterful work of art en miniature.
How it all began...
As a kid I loved to paint and to draw and to shape figures and animals. Some years later it was the Asian Culture, in particular the art in Buddhism which caught my attention.50 years ago I discovered in search of Zen painting for the first time Japanese woodblock prints in London. With the small budget of a student I finally could acquire two sheets by the famous artist Kuniyoshi depicting Samurais from the Chushingura Series “The 47 Ronin”. That was the beginning of my print collection and my growing fascination for Japan and its art. The collection grew steadily so that I started to deal “a little bit” in order to acquire even better prints. My friend Barry Davies started a few years later with Netsuke and Japanese Art from the Edo and Meiji periods. I was particulary fascinated by Netsuke and the first purchase of one of these wonderful miniature artworks was only a matter of time. In the middle of the 70s I bought at Sotherby´s a 18th century Kyoto school ball rat and when I put my hand around her with closed eyes, I never wanted to let her go again. She is still with me. (s. Fig. Rat) In those times dealing with Japanese Art became my only profession. I opened gallery GEMINI in the centre of Munich, went on buying trips to Japan and auction houses in London, Paris and New York. Annual participations on art fairs worldwide as well as exhibitions in my gallery followed. After more than 25 years I closed my gallery in Munich in 2010. Since then I run my business from home, mainly with Netsuke and to a lesser extent with woodblock prints and scroll paintings. I am member of the International Artdealer Assciation CINOA and the German Art Dealer Association KD.