Life is a Highway: Prints of Japan’s Tokaido Road
May 06, 2014 - August 17, 2014
The Tokaido Road was an important and well-trodden route in pre-modern Japan connecting ancient political capital of Kyoto with the imperial city of Edo [Tokyo]. The road was punctuated by 53 stations where travelers could rest and refresh themselves and where the government could monitor trade and collect taxes. Art and literature featuring the Tokaido Road were immensely popular in Japan and inspired an American culture of virtual tourism. In particular, woodblock prints in the ukiyo-e tradition functioned as visual memorabilia depicting travel-related scenes along the road. The term ukiyo-e, literally “pictures of the floating world,” was originally a Buddhist concept that focused on one’s existence in a world of suffering from which all wished to be released. The term was coined during the Edo period (1615–1868) to describe artworks that captured the joie de vivre when lives were defined by pleasurable enjoyment of all things.
This exhibition will include four complete series depicting the Tokaido Road, noteworthy for its comparative approach to the stations along the route. The “Parallel Tokaido”, 1843-47, was designed by three of the best known 19th century Japanese woodcut artists working in the ukiyo-e tradition: Utagawa Hiroshige, Utagawa Kuniyoshi and Utagawa Kunisada. Rather than focusing on the passing landscape, the artists represented the road through historical and legendary stories associated with its numerous stations. The exhibition also will include two complete versions of the series that Hiroshige created himself. These are vibrantly colored masterful depictions of landscape and figural forms. Between 1959 and 1974, Sekino Jun’ichiro created a modern version of the Tokaido series that reflects global perspectives on the intersection of traditional and modern sensibilities. Additional Japanese art objects, such as textiles and paintings, will complement the prints.
By juxtaposing these varied interpretations spanning more than a century along the Tokaido Road, the exhibition will offer a more complete picture of place: an intersection of text, image, folklore, and history. These spectacular prints will address themes such as classical literary and theatrical subjects, dangerous liaisons, tales of the supernatural, samurai legends, religious pilgrimage, memorable characters from all walks of life, along with universal themes to which all travelers can relate.For a highlight slideshow click here.
Monet and American Impressionism
February 03, 2015 - May 24, 2015
Monet and American Impressionism will highlight twenty-five artists who launched a new way of painting in response to the influence of French Impressionism. The exhibition will present roughly fifty paintings and twenty prints dated between 1880 and 1920 by many of the leading figures in American Impressionism, such as Mary Cassatt, William Merritt Chase, Childe Hassam, Willard Metcalf, Theodore Robinson, John Henry Twachtman, and J. Alden Weir. These artists adapted the innovations of French Impressionism and ultimately paved the way to a uniquely American style of painting in the 19th century. The exhibition will include landscapes, portraits, intimate depictions of women and children, and images of modern life such as urban views and popular leisure activities.
The exhibition will consider how proponents of Impressionism in America responded to the paintings of Claude Monet and his French contemporaries—both what they embraced and what they ignored—as well as to aspects of social and cultural life in the United States during the period. For example, the exhibition will explore relevant issues of the day such as America’s fascination with French art and culture, the impact of tourism on artistic taste and consumer culture, changing roles of women in American society, and attitudes toward industrialization, exercise and public health. Select works by Monet will introduce artistic concerns such as media, technique, subject matter, and composition.
In addition to the leading painters of the day, the exhibition will include works by less renowned figures such as John Leslie Breck, Gari Melchers, Richard Miller, Lilla Cabot Perry, and Guy Wiggins, among others. Artists representing a new generation of painters who merged Impressionism with realist concerns will include Maurice Prendergast, William Glackens, Ernest Lawson, and Jonas Lie. The exhibition will be organized along five thematic groupings: “The Allure of Giverny,” “A Country Retreat,” “The Vibrance of Urbanism,” “The Comfort of Home,” and “A Graphic Legacy.” Each section will include at least one work by Monet or other French Impressionists, such as Edgar Degas, Camille Pissarro, Pierre Auguste Renoir and Alfred Sisley, alongside works by American artists in order to generate dialogue about techniques, composition and subject matter.
Monet and American Impressionism is curated by Dulce Román, Curator of Modern Art, and will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue with essays addressing the artistic, cultural and historical context of American Impressionism from interdisciplinary perspectives.
Utagawa Kuniyoshi, Japanese, 1798 - 1861, Kawasaki: Nitta Yoshiiki, Edo Kuniyoshi Period (1615 - 1867), 1843 - 1847, Museum purchase, gift of friends of the Harn Museum
Claude Monet, Champ d'avoine (Oat Field), 1890, gift of Michael A. Singer
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