Japanese Prints Exhibition Opening at UA Museum of Art
The artwork explores the print-making process, everyday life in pre-modern Japan, and the cultural exchange that took place between Japan and the Western world.

By Diane Hartman, UA Museum of Art
June 22, 2010

The University of Arizona Museum of Art beginning June 24 will present an exhibition of 19th century Japanese woodblock prints from the UAMA Permanent Collection.

The artwork explores the print-making process, everyday life in pre-modern Japan, and the cultural exchange that took place between Japan and the Western world. 

In 1853, when the Kanagawa Treaty opened Japan's ports to international trade, the Western world caught a glimpse of the beautiful and unique culture of Japan through its exports.

Europe and America, for the first time, were exposed to Japanese print, which ironically often was used as wrapping for trade items. (The opening of Japan to the West coincided with a loss of interest in the prints in Japan – hence their use as packing material.)

Though considered naive by Western standards of the time, this unique Japanese art form was revolutionary to the art world. The prints were of monumental importance to the field of Western graphic design.

The lack of perspective and shadow, the flat areas of strong color and the tendency to place the main subject off-center appealed to young Western artists who incorporated these techniques into their work.

Artists influenced by Japanese prints include Pierre Bonnard, Mary Cassatt, Paul Gauguin, Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Vincent van Gogh and James McNeill Whistler.

This is the curatorial debut of Waverley Chmura under the mentorship of Lauren Rabb, UAMA Curator of Art. Chmura is a volunteer at the UAMA who graduated from Arizona State University in December 2009 with a bachelor's degree in art history and a certificate in Asian studies with an emphasis on the Japanese language.

The exhibition, "Pictures of the Floating World: Life in 19th Century Japan," runs through Sept. 26.

Extra info

What

Pictures of the Floating World: Life in 19th Century Japan

Where

UA Museum of Art

When

June 24 - Sept. 26

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Diane Hartman

UA Museum of Art

520-621-7568

dhartman@email.arizona.edu