Shofuso and Modernism: Mid-Century Collaboration between Japan and Philadelphia
September 2-November 29, 2020
The Shofuso and Modernism: Mid-Century Collaboration between Japan and Philadelphia exhibition and programs focus on the friendships and transcultural exchanges between Junzo Yoshimura, George Nakashima, Noémi Pernessin Raymond, and Antonin Raymond through their collaborative architectural projects. Shofuso House and Garden is a manifestation of an aesthetic, intellectual community and this exhibition highlights underrepresented histories of architecture and design situated in the Philadelphia/ Bucks County region.
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. Shofuso is an example of a traditional Shoin-zukuri style house with a Sansui style garden. Shofuso was designed by architect Junzo Yoshimura, constructed by Heizaemon Ito XI, and the landscape and garden were designed and installed by Tansai Sano. The original Fusuma was painted by Higashiyama Kaii who was a Living National Treasure in Japan. The Shofuso project was directed by Arthur Drexler, with Philip C. Johnson and George M. Hopkinson as consultants. Antonin Raymond was one of the committee members and recommended Junzo Yoshimura to be the lead architect for this project.
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.
The presentation of this exhibition is inspired by Noémi’s interior design and the current Nakashima residence and studio. The objects and artifacts such as Antonin Raymond’s drawing of Japanese artisans working at the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo in the 1920s, Yoshimura, Nakashima and the Raymonds’ architectural and design collaboration from the 1930s, a toy chest Nakashima made for his daughter in the internment camp in Idaho in the 1940s, and a series of archival documents from original exhibition at Moma in 1954 will be displayed inside of the house. Outside of the house, traditional Japanese garden elements will be installed based on Tansai Sano’s original plan for the West Fairmount Park site to represent a microcosm of the universe within the garden to view from inside the house. Together, the garden and the house express harmonious cohabitation.
Major support for Shofuso and Modernism: Mid-century Collaboration between Japan and Philadelphia has been provided by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage.