It’s not easy to write about art.

Art is highly subjective after all, and I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a complete plebeian when it comes to art. But someone much wiser than I once said that art is supposed to make the viewer feel something – and I certainly had a lot of feels when I discovered Katsuyo Aoki’s porcelain skulls.

katsuyo aoki

Aoki is a Tokyo native, and completed an MFA in Ceramic Art from the prestigious Tama Art University in 2000. Since then, she has showcased her porcelain work in solo and group exhibitions all over the world – and she shows no signs of slowing down just yet.

Aoki’s Predictive Dream Series

Here are some of the porcelain skulls I mentioned earlier. Personally I think they’re quite disturbing; they remind me of the skulls of bone cancer patients. Despite that, they are highly detailed and even quite beautiful, and if nothing else I think Aoki’s skill in creating them is nothing short of impressive.

There are a few that seem to have been inspired by pointy helmets like the Pickelhaube. Check out the side-by-side comparison below, between one of her skulls and a photo of Otto von Bismark.


pickelhaube inspired

Likewise, other skulls seem to have been inspired by crowns. Have a look at the following skull. Don’t you think that central, oval-shaped jewel looks kind of like the centerpiece of the Russian Imperial Crown?

crown collage

crown inspired

Some of Aoki’s skulls sprout curling, ram-like horns, like the ones below.


ram-like collage

I don’t quite know what to make of the rest of her skulls. One, for example, seems almost cat-like. Another looks like the skull’s face is melting off – but that’s impossible, right, it hasn’t any flesh to melt off in the first place! Well, they still look pretty neat in any case.


XV collage

XVIII collage

Then there’s this one. I can’t help but think Aoki was just having a laugh when she made it. Is that a faceless kewpie doll standing at attention?

kewpie collage

Aoki’s Other Works

Aoki’s quite prolific and she’s produced other porcelain pieces as well. If you liked her skulls and are raring for more with the same sort of flavor, check out her site. Notable mentions include her disembodied horse’s legs, or the strangely titled “Chicken Poet.”

horse and chicken

So what do you guys think? Is it art? Would you consider having some of her skulls at home? Let us know in the comments!

Images of porcelain sculptures are from Katsuyo Aoki’s site.

  • Gerran C.

    Wow! Thanks for sharing! Those are some amazing pieces of art. The detail is just fantastic, and so intricate. I will definitely check out her other work.

  • rabideau

    fantastic. reminds me of murakami’s unicorn skulls looked like in my mind’s eye…

  • Slarry

    WOW. This is so amazing, how does she do all those details?
    I would totally love those skulls or other works in my house, geez, I would live IN one of her works. She could design a house, would be one of the most beautiful houses ever.

  • Dino ディノ

    Impressive. I quite like them. :D

  • Me


  • Xaromir

    I wonder: How? This is impossibly skillful.

  • Hamyo

    wow!! look at the details, very uniqe and that shape of each skull ceramic is really great!! thanks for sharing this article fiona. :D

  • Ilyas

    This is art. Glorious. Though I would not have it at home, I would support her work.

  • Jason

    Are these skulls at 1:1 scale? Amazingly intricate. I’d like to check out one of her exhibitions.

  • Guest

    They are absolutely art, they are just kind of hard to distinguish between something decorative or something conceptual. If they are based off something such as the pickelhaube


    They are absolutely art, it just kind of depends on whether they are decorative or conceptual, and with her work its hard to distinguish. If it is based on something like the pickelhaube it could be something quite conceptual, and conceptual art has been one of the big things of modern day fine art.

  • JoJocelyn

    Absolutely fabulous! Not only are they beautiful, but it’s really refreshing to see something unique that isn’t conceptual installation or performance based art. Not hating on them, but it seems like the two and three dimensional craftsman are a dying breed within the modern art world.

  • GayDesu

    Why are you using 4chan memes…

  • ZA다ルﻣ

    you mean skullfull? lol.

  • Latrice

    Wow! Haunting and beautiful work!

  • Dean Wagman

    Wow, I can’t wait to 3D print one of these in a couple of years.