Friend and contributor to BosGuy blog, Michael C., recently reviewed SAMURAI! ARMOR FROM THE ANN & GABRIEL BARBIER-MUELLER COLLECTION now on view at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts through August 4, 2013.
OK, so I’ll admit it – the MFA’s Samurai! exhibit (April 14 – August 4, 2013) was not at the top of my to-do list for this summer’s Boston (vs. P-Town) weekends. Warfare-themed shows or anything that’s inspired Tarantino-league “visionaries” really isn’t my cup of tea.
But at the urging of my highly-evolved designer friend Marty (I think “amazeballs” was the word he used to describe his experience), I decided to give it a shot. And with that, off to the MFA I went, and man was I surprised! The creativity, craftsmanship and art that goes into creating that armor – indeed that whole look – will blow your mind away. Picture this: armor made of sumptuously luxurious fabrics and leather, interwoven with iron. Brocade-lined and fur-trimmed overcoats. There’s lacquer and gold ornamentation that signifies the warrior’s clan and overlord. Add to that intricate, tasseled silk knots, helmets and masks so seriously embellished that they belong more on a catwalk than in a battle scene. Yes, I dare say I was intrigued too.
The show makes the viewer wonder whether these works of art were really designed and crafted to be worn in battle. It’s like debating whether to wear couture to tea dance And that’s when I realized how off I had been in my uninformed preconception of the whole Samurai culture. For example, I did not know that, though initially elite warriors, the Samurai came to represent one of the most influential forces in the evolution of modern Japan as we know (or not know) it. Their function as ultimate fighters, often glorified and romanticized in comics and cult movies, gradually became obsolete but their personal qualities as respected men of integrity, loyalty and unparalleled wisdom, have endured, thus affording them their gleaming aura of the “perfect” citizen.
And in turn, Samurai! is a perfect activity for a rainy Saturday in Boston (a.k.a. every other Saturday this summer). Whether you’re into the Japanese culture and art or simply into art or anything educational, this show will satisfy all your tastes. Hey, it’ll even please your junk food-munching, football-watching brother-in-law and your 10-year old nephew, so you may as well make it a family outing. It’s all so manly!
About the author: A former banker, Michael C offsets the sobriety of his professional life with his passion for design, music, the arts and anything beautiful.
© Michael Constantinides 2012 – all rights reserved