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Landmark show of Japanese prints revisited PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sentinel-Tribune Staff   
Wednesday, 02 October 2013 09:13
TOLEDO - Fresh Impressions: Early Modern Japanese Prints opens Friday at the Toledo Museum of Art.
The exhibit visit and reassemble in its entirety a show organized by the museum in 1930 that played a critical role in popularizing modern Japanese woodblock prints in North America. It was  the largest exhibition ever devoted to the movement and producing an authoritative catalog to accompany it on its nationwide tour of 10 museums.
The museum has also produced a major catalog in conjunction with the show that for the first time reproduces all 343 prints together in full color. The exhibition, organized by the museum's chief curator and curator of Asian art, Carolyn Putney, runs through Jan. 1.
"The Toledo Museum of Art's momentous 1930 exhibition is considered a touchstone of the early 20th-century Japanese shin hanga movement, which revived the traditional woodblock print for the modern era," said Museum Director Brian Kennedy. "I am delighted that a new generation of museum visitors can experience this rare opportunity to view these incredibly vibrant and compelling images for themselves."
The shin hanga movement began in Japan around 1915 and is noted for combining traditional Japanese woodblock technique with an interest in Western aesthetics and a vivid, modern color sensibility.
The new exhibition underlines the importance of the early 20th-century resurgence of Japanese woodblock printmaking, which has been described as "a period of Renaissance" in the field. The prints encompass a variety of subject matter, including traditional landscapes, seascapes, rivers and lakes, beautiful women, actors, the natural world and wildlife, cities and towns and temples, as well as Western-inspired genre scenes and still lifes.
All but five of the 343 prints are now in the Museum's collection. Most of these were purchased around the time of the original show and donated to the Museum in 1939 by local businessman and print collector Hubert D. Bennett. (The Museum is borrowing the additional five prints.) The prints have only rarely been out of storage since the 1930s and as a result are in pristine condition.
In addition to the 343 woodblock prints, the exhibition will present companion objects depicted in the prints-such as kimonos, netsuke and samurai swords and armor-not included in the original 1930 show.

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