jb blunk


A young American soldier stationed in Korea in 1950, James Blain Blunk happened to drop by a craft store one afternoon in Tokyo. There, he was introduced to Isamu Noguchi and got talking. From that point onwards, Blunk became obsessed. Thus began his career as a sculptor and ceramicist. Over the years, he worked primarily with different types of wood creating carved furniture and abstract wood sculptures; with clay making extraordinary forms; and even jewelry using silver and other metals. Combining the simplicity of his Kansas youth, the contemplativeness of a Japanese-trained ceramist, and the laid-back style of California; JB Blunk grew into a renowned artist of 20th century America.

Overview by Barnes and Noble:

“This is the first publication to explore the entire oeuvre of the great American sculptor JB Blunk, with previously unseen examples of his work in stone, clay, painting and jewelry. The design beautifully combines archival images of Blunk’s work in situ and at his home and his studio, with color plates of newly photographed pieces. In an essay, [an interviewer] discusses Blunk’s reverence for ancient art and places, while Smithsonian Curator of Ceramics [representative] details Blunk’s formative years in Japan.

Blunk maintained a Midwestern sensibility of hard work and plainspokenness throughout his career, with little regard for the distinction between art, craft and design. Rather, he was guided by the materials with which he worked to create large sculptural pieces that seem to exude their own powerful energy unique to organic matter.”

“They are transcendent spiritual paintings intended to decorate a theosophist temple af Klint was instructed would one day be built in the form of a spiral rising toward the heavens. She kept them hidden for twenty years after her death, and it took sixty years for them to be shown. The huge paintings she made for the temple are really lovely, while her smaller pieces are disappointingly crude and didactic diagrams.”