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A Life in Objects

ISBN: 9798218324377
Binding: Paperback
Author: Rob Barnard with Introduction by Yagi Kazuo
Forewords by: Timothy Harris & Claire Wilcox
Pages: 348
Trim: 9.5 x 9.5 inches
Published: 02/01/2024

A Life in Objects exhibits almost fifty years of work by the American potter Rob Barnard. These objects, from his early studies in Japan in the mid '70s to the present all propose that pottery, regardless of its size or function, can eloquently express humankind's deepest desire to comprehend its own existence.

A Life in Objects is a companion to Barnard's earlier book, A Search for Relevance, which documents his intellectual investigations into how pottery is manifestly capable of confronting the intricate and unpredictable nature of human existence throughout history. During these many years of writing, publishing and exhibiting Barnard was simultaneously absorbed in forming expressive objects full of emotional content like the ones presented here. They all are focused on this eternally familiar mystery.

A Life in Objects enables us to observe the fifty years of Barnard's personal search for relevance through objects which both question and celebrate the mysteries of Life.


Rob Barnard is a potter and writer who resides in the Shenandoah Valley. He began studying pottery at the University of Kentucky in 1971 and was a research student at Kyoto University of Fine Arts in Kyoto, Japan from 1974 to 1978, where he studied under the late Kazuo Yagi. He returned to the US in 1978. He has received two Fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, one in 1978, the second in 1990. He exhibits widely in the United States, Japan, and Great Britain and has had solo exhibitions in New York, Washington DC, Boston, London, Amsterdam, Tokyo, Nagoya, and Osaka.

His work is in the collections of the Smithsonian's American Art Museum, the Museum of Arts & Design, the Everson Museum, the Crocker Museum of Art, the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, the Milwaukee Art Museum, and the Mint Museum.

Barnard was the ceramics editor for the New Art Examiner from 1987 to 1993 and has written for The Studio Potter, American Craft, Ceramics Monthly, The Logbook, Ceramics: Art & Perception, Keramick, and the New Art Examiner. Rob Barnard's previous book, A Search for Relevance, was published by Enshin Press in 2022.

Yagi Kazuo—Often referred to as the father of modern Japanese ceramics was born in Kyoto in 1918 and was the eldest son of ceramics artist Yagi Isso. He is best known as a founding member and spokesman of Sodeisha, an exhibition group which was created in 1948. He became a professor at Kyoto City University of Fine Arts in 1971. He died in 1979. In commemoration of the 25th anniversary of his death, a large retrospective of his life's work traveled throughout Japan.

Timothy Harris—Born in London, Harris has lived in Japan since 1970. He was the founder and editor of the Arts pages at the Asahi Evening News in Tokyo. His poetry, translations and essays on poetry, drama and music have appeared in P.N. Review (Manchester), Agenda (London), Quadrant (Melbourne), Plays International (London), the Asian edition of the Financial Times, and the Chicago Review. He has contributed to The Oxford Companion to Twentieth Century Poetry in English (Oxford University Press).

Claire Wilcox--Retired Senior Curator of Fashion at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London from 2004-2022. She curated exhibitions including Radical Fashion, The Art and Craft of Gianni Versace, Vivienne Westwood, The Golden Age of Couture: Paris and London 1947-1957, Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty and was a co-curator of Frieda Kahlo: Making Her Self Up. She is Professor in Fashion Curation at the London College of Fashion and is on the editorial board of Fashion Theory: The Journal of Dress, Body & Culture. Her Recent book, Patchwork, published in 2020 by Bloomsbury was the winner of the 2021 Pen Ackerley Prize.