Robert Yellin’s Websites and Blog

By Dominique Flemings

As an interior designer, I have always adored pottery. Carefully used, a vase can accentuate an entire room. A well-chosen ceramic centerpiece might prove the key to a masterful color scheme. On the contrary, the ambience of a room is as easily broken as the pottery you put in it, and a poor pick of earthenware might lead to the shattering of an otherwise flawless setting. It was with this in mind that, when I first moved to Japan, I determined to learn as much as I could about the interior design techniques of Japan. Of particular interest was the country’s intriguing pottery.

I quickly found that I needn’t look farther than one Robert Yellin. Search “Japanese Pottery” on Google and the engine still brings up his website as the top-ranking result, as it did when I first moved here. You’ll also find the website of his gallery is the third hit, just under Wikipedia. His placement is well-deserved, and after reading through his sites, I had little doubt that he was the first and foremost authority on the subject of Japanese pottery, bar none. As a practiced artist, columnist for the Japan Times and writer of “Ode to Japanese Pottery,” Yellin has an intimate knowledge of the subject – and it shows, even in the nature of his websites and blog.

Japanese pottery is a diverse mix of styles. While some pieces may be plain with only one hue, others may be a diverse speckling of many colors. One vase may have ornately crafted designs that twist around the piece like serpentine rivers of glass and clay, and another might boast of intricate flowers. In this same way, Yellin’s various websites are entirely discrete in style.

To start with, saunter on over to his informational site, and you’ll find a site that, while graphically somewhat bland, is filled to the brim with information on all things Japanese pottery. While the website’s color scheme and design is reminiscent of the plain earthen clay jugs unearthed at archeological digs, it makes up this for an encyclopedic abundance of articles and writings that Yellin has accumulated over the years. You’ll find that this site is copiously stocked with articles on artists, ceramics appreciation, styles, time periods, etcetera, much of which is Yellin’s own work. It is unlikely that you will have a question that the vast resources of this site cannot answer.

But if admiring pictures of artfully crafted ceramics is your wish, this website may not quite be your cup of tea. Instead, take a look at Yellin’s own gallery’s site – and feast your eyes. While the amount of information and content in no way exceeds that of his other site, the graphics and pictures are unprecedented. Take a stroll through the virtual gallery and soak in the sites of meticulously crafted vases, jars, sake cups, bowls and more. The pictures seem to easily capture the sheen of the glaze on many works, suggesting the glimmer of the furnaces where the pieces were fired.

And, should you be in the market for ceramics, the option to purchase these pieces is available as well. The site is so much more than a collection of beautiful pictures – it is a diverse collection of buyable art that draws from both contemporary and antique styles and pieces. No matter what theme you may be looking for, there is no doubt a piece in the gallery that suits your taste. For me personally, this gem caught my eye – a Mashiko Guinomi by Hamada Shoji, selling for 280,000 yen. I enjoyed looking at the photographs of this item, as this fits my budget much more nicely than actually buying it.

The last of Yellin’s websites is a blog of which he is the author. The pictures and graphics are not quite as spectacular as his gallery, but the blog is an overarching guide to the events of the Japanese ceramics world. He constantly updates this blog with news concerning the pottery scene in Japan, ranging from exhibitions to international art stories. Yellin’s experience lends an authoritative tone to his writings and commentary, and allows him to point out the beauty of works in simple language understood by those both unfamiliar and well-acquainted with Japanese pottery. He expertly takes a rather complex art, simplifies it and then invites us to understand and appreciate it on the level he does.

I am still unraveling the subtle nuances and motifs of Japanese interior design, but Yellin’s guide to the culture’s pottery went a long way in establishing my mental foothold in this area. Whether you want to know more on the subject or are even in the market for a piece to add your collection or decorate your home with, this is the connoisseur of arts to read and consult. He is an authority on the subject with an overabundance of experience. No doubt, he has taken a great amount of his time and effort to provide the content on all of these websites – and it certainly shows. The excellence in his work easily convinced me to award his sites the thumbs-up they deserve.


~ by Japan Blog Review on August 11, 2010.

One Response to “Robert Yellin’s Websites and Blog”

  1. I googled “Japanese pottery” and ended up watching a youtube video about it. I think I may have a new found respect for pottery.

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