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OU museum exhibits collection of Chinese teapots

A collection of decorative Chinese teapots is on view at University of Oklahoma's Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art in Norman.
BY JOHN BRANDENBURG Published: April 10, 2011

— A small but most enjoyable show — like a hot cup of tea on a cold day — is on view on the ground floor of the University of Oklahoma's Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art. Works in the “Tea and Immortality: Chinese Yixing Teapots” show are contemporary but have a timeless, exquisite, exotic feel, reflecting the area's ceramics traditions since the 14th century.

They are from the James T. Bialac Collection that was given to the Phoenix Art Museum. The Arizona museum organized the exhibit of Chinese teapots. A year ago, Bialac gave a major gift of American Indian art to the OU museum.

A rounded buff stoneware “Dragon teapot bearing (a) pearl,” attributed to Zhou Dingfang, eloquently testifies to the importance of dragons as symbols of “masculinity, fertility and imperial power” in China.

The body of a graceful, long-necked duck feeding a fish to a duckling supplies the body of a superb brown stoneware teapot by an unknown artist. This charming work finds an echo of sorts in a 2000 green stoneware teapot in the shape of a leaf (with two bugs on it), the graceful neck of whose spout suggests that of a swan. It is attributed to Gao Jianfang.

A baby fish adopts a playful pose on its back atop a serendipitous 1994 buff stoneware teapot by Zhongguo Yizzan, while three frogs have fun on a teapot pretending to be a rock by Jinzhi. Equally irresistible are a squat brown stoneware “Three-legged-toad teapot” by Fan Aifen, and a red stoneware, defensively bristling “Hedgehog teapot” by Ye Qing.

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