NASHVILLE, TN.- The Vanderbilt University Fine Arts Gallery
announces the opening of The Arts of Japan. The Arts of Japan will remain on view through February 26, 2012.
The Arts of Japan is drawn entirely from the Fine Arts Gallerys permanent collection which houses over 1,300 Japanese works, encompassing both fine and applied art. According to Gallery Director Joseph Mella, The Gallerys collection of Japanese art is one of the most respected in our region and a valuable resource to students and scholars of Japanese art and culture, as well as the general public.
Highlights of the exhibition include two six-panel screen paintings: an early seventeenth-century work illustrating scenes from the Tale of Gengi and an eighteenth-century work featuring vignettes of daily life in Kyoto, each a masterful example of Japanese painting executed in mineral colors and gold leaf; a wide range of fine ceramics from blue and white porcelain to works by artists associated with the rebirth of the Japanese folk art movement; scroll paintings; over fifty woodblock prints by recognized masters of the medium; exquisite examples of lacquer, some embellished with gold and silver; and a selection of illustrated rare books.
Two scroll paintings depicting winter landscapes are on display which new research has revealed to have a surprising connection. One is by seventeenth-century painter Kanō Naonobu. The other, previously thought to be by an unknown artist, has recently been securely attributed to Kanō Yasunobu, the younger brother of Naonobu. These brothers, each a skillful artist in his own right, were descendants of the Kanō family who led the influential Kanō School of painting. For centuries, the Kanō family dominated official painting in Japan, passing their closely guarded inkpainting techniques among their family and to a select group of apprentices. The Arts of Japan marks the first time these scroll paintings have been exhibited together as works by the same prominent family of artists.
The Arts of Japan also features outstanding examples of graphic arts by such influential nineteenth-century Ukiyo-e artists as Utagawa Kunisada I, Utagawa Hiroshige, and Tsukioka Yoshitoshi. Japanese for pictures of the floating world, Ukiyo-e prints were usually characterized by themes of ephemeral beauty or pleasure, often including scenes of Japanese landscapes, attractive courtesans, and the theater. Among the featured Ukiyo-e prints, several are from Yoshitoshis popular series Yoshitoshi Ryakuga (Sketches by Yoshitoshi). These prints, illustrating episodes from Japanese folklore and history, show a comedic and light-hearted side of this typically dark artist. Select prints from Utagawa Hiroshiges series Fifty-Three Staions of the Tōkaidō Road are on view in The Arts of Japan. This series, drawn from Hiroshiges own travels on the Tōkaidō Road connecting Edo, modern day Tokyo, to Kyoto, was the artists first attempt at a landscape print series and eventually contributed to his status as the foremost artist of topographical prints of his time.
The Arts of Japan allows visitors to view the evolution of Japanese printmaking in the twentieth century through examples by artists of the shin-hanga and sōsaku-hanga movements. After the decline of Ukiyo-e in the late nineteenth century, the shin-hanga (literally new prints) movement, begun in 1912, sought to revive the subjects and style of the traditional Japanese Ukiyo-e, in some instances with added traces of Western aesthetics. At the same time, the sōsaku-hanga (translated as creative prints) movement rejected the traditional division of labor in Japanese printmaking for a more Western method in which a single artist completed every step of the printmaking process, thus allowing for greater individual artistic control and expression. Examples from shin-hanga artists such as Takahashi Hiroaki (Shōtei) and Tsuchiya Kōitsu as well as sōsaku-hanga artists such as Joichi Hoshi and Reika Iwami are on display.