Unkei


Unkei
born 1148?
died 1223

Japanese sculptor.

He established a style of realistic and dynamic Buddhist sculpture that had an immense impact on Japanese art for centuries. Commissioned by the Kamakura shogunate, he made statues for the Kōfuku and Tōdai temples in Nara and is best remembered for the nearly 26-ft (8-m) tall guardian figures at Tōdai temple's Great South Gate. He later produced many portrait sculptures.

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▪ Japanese sculptor
born 1148?
died 1223

      Japanese sculptor of the Late Heian (1086–1185) and early Kamakura (1192–1333) periods, who established a style of Buddhist sculpture that had an immense impact on Japanese art for centuries.

  Unkei's father, Kōkei, was himself a famous sculptor. Unkei became a sculptor of merit before age 20 and was commissioned by the Kamakura shogunate (the military government with headquarters in Kamakura) to make statues for the Kōfuku Temple and Tōdai Temple in Nara. He undertook the task with the help of Kaikei, his father's best pupil, and more than 20 assistants. Best known of their collaborative efforts are the Kongo-rikishi, two nearly 28-foot- (more than 8-metre-) tall statues of the Niō (Ni-ō) (two protector gods, or Heavenly Kings; completed 1203) at the Great South Gate (Nandai-mon) of Tōdai Temple. The realistic and dynamic style of these statues is typical of Unkei's art. In his later years he chiefly worked for the Kamakura shogunate, producing many portrait sculptures.
 

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Universalium. 2010.

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