Wabi Sabi Themed Art for Home Decorating

by | Apr 4, 2018

一By Carol Leigh

The concepts of “quality” and “art” are interesting to think about as they compare to one another. What exactly makes a piece of artwork “quality” to someone while another individual eschews it entirely? In other areas of life, this is an easier condition to determine. A piece of furniture, for example, can be definitively well-made even if the style doesn’t suit your personal taste. In the same vein, a piece of furniture can fit your taste exactly, but if it falls apart in one week after light use, then it wasn’t a “quality” piece. The idea here is that “quality” often relates to a sense of craftsmanship and perfect – but does this idea hold true with artwork? Is a piece of artwork that is imperfect worth your time and money? Wabi Sabi would like to assert a very emphatic “yes” to that question.

What is Wabi Sabi?

Wabi Sabi is a world view centered in traditional Japanese aesthetics that focuses on accepting that imperfection and transience are inescapable parts of the world. It’s an idea that has been gaining popularity for quite a while, with many individuals appreciating the idea of finding fulfillment and contentment in an imperfect world or imperfect life situation. You might wonder what, exactly, this has to do with art and why I’m bringing you along on this journey about a world view that originated across the world.

More than a world view, Wabi Sabi has become an important cultural and artistic movement that has found many loyal and ardent followers in past few years. The concept translates into an art form that encompasses handmade items and emphasizes imperfection. That means that you’re unlikely to find highly polished art pieces that are flawless and free of individual quirks or other “flaws”. In fact, such an art piece wouldn’t be considered a good example of Wabi Sabi at all. Let’s take a closer look at what Wabi Sabi as an art form looks like, and why you might consider adding it to your home.

Embracing Transience

One of the most important ideas behind Wabi Sabi is that the world is in a constant state of change. Nothing remains the same forever, in other words, and it is important to find acceptance in this idea. To that end, much Wabi Sabi art is actually created from living things. Traditional Japanese flower arrangements known as ikebana, for example, can be excellent examples of this particular art ideal. These art pieces are likely to look absolutely breathtaking – for the amount of time the plants thrive, at least. As with all things, eventually the flowers will die, and the art piece will have faded. The enjoyment and beauty that it brought to all who viewed it before its demise, however, is not something that can be dismissed.

Life is an ever-evolving set of circumstances that could change at any moment. Instead of seeking to invest in long-lasting items in an attempt to temper that change, why not embrace the idea of it and opt for art that makes you happy right now?

Perfect Imperfection

Another important concept behind Wabi Sabi as an art form is the idea that imperfection can, itself, be a selling point. While many consumers might initially balk at the thought of investing in artwork that is anything less than flawless, others will see the appeal in a handmade item that has its own “personality”, so to speak. The idea here is that not everything has to be perfect in order to be worthwhile. There is plenty of value to be found in a piece that was obviously labored over and made with love, even if it is not technically “perfect”. Those imperfections are what gives the piece its own flavor and are themselves big selling points for collectors of this particular art form.

What are some examples of Wabi Sabi artwork?

一 By Juli Scalzi

Given all of the information above, you might find yourself a bit unclear as to what the Wabi Sabi aesthetic actually looks like. One popular piece of wall art in this category is that of a beautiful beach with footprints marring the otherwise perfect sand. The foot prints, disappearing off into the distance, are a visceral example of the change that life brings upon us. Additionally, instead of a pristine beach with perfectly smooth sand, this one includes the aforementioned footsteps that keep the space from reaching perfection. It’s an interesting aesthetic that seems to imply that human life might be messy and imperfect, but it’s beautiful and worthwhile all the same.

Check out more Wabi Sabi artwork at Fine Art America! We have a vast collection of Wabi Sabi-inspired wall art that will help you decorate any space in your home.


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