Suspended Cat by Fumio Asakura

Suspended Cat, by Fumio Asakura. 1909. Bronze; height 20 1/4 in. Asakura-Choso Museum, Tokyo.

Suspended Cat created in 1909, during the Meiji period, by Fumio Asakura is a great example of the artist’s close study of his subjects. As a very strong three-dimensional sculpture, one can really feel the cat’s frustration and discomfort as it is held by the scruff and suspended in midair. Fumio Asakura enjoyed working with the feline form and even had a running theme of other similar sculptures. For example, the cat crouching, lying in wait for its prey, the cat eating its catch, etc. His studio in Tokyo has been turned into a museum called the Asakura Choso Museum exhibiting more than 60 of his works including 10 bronze cat sculptures. As professor of sculpture at the Tokyo University of Art and Music, where he had also attended school, for 24 years, Asakura heavily influenced many of the emerging artists at the turn of the century. He was also considered to be one of Japan’s greatest sculptors of the 20th century. Born in 1883, Asakura enjoyed portraying nudes and animals in a romantic style with very naturalistic features, typically out of bronze, which seems to be his favorite medium. Asakura was a frequent prizewinner in Japan’s annual Bunten exhibitions, also known as the Art Exhibition of the Ministry of Education, created in 1907 by the Japanese government giving sculpture a renewed social recognition although modern works of this time (the Meiji period) did not portray strong consciousness of the city. The exhibition was perfect for Asakura in that it held works by newer artists, traditional and radical, and he was known for his western-style sculpture. He also enjoyed designing and creating landscape and water gardens, many of which are preserved to this day. – Megan Hughes

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