2011 / Dreams and Diversions: 250 Years of Japanese Woodblock Prints from The San Diego Museum of Art, November 6 – June 5

San Diego Museum of Art Kunisada "Ishikawa Goemon"

Utagawa Kunisada (1786-1865). “Sosei-hoshi: The actor Matsumoto Koshiro V as Ishikawa Goemon,” from the series The Allusions to Thirty-six Selected Poets (Mitate sanjurokkansen no uchi). Woodblock print, 1852. Publihsed by Iseya Kanekichi. 35.56 x 25.4 cm. The San Diego Museum of Art.

Cultural News, 2010 October Issue

The San Diego Museum of Art, in collaboration with the University of San Diego, is presenting a landmark exhibition of Japanese woodblock prints from its permanent collection. This major exhibition unveils one of the museum’s least known, yet significant, collections and pays tribute to San Diego’s unique role in U.S-Japan relations.

From November 6, through June 5, 2011, more than 400 Japanese woodblock prints – ranging from some of the earliest examples of Ukiyo-e by Hishikawa Moronobu (ca. 1618–1694) to the work of modern print masters of the 1920s and 30s – will be on view at the San Diego Museum of Art.

Visitors will begin with a virtual journey through the countryside of Japan along the Tokaido Road, which led from the ancient capital of Kyoto to the city of Edo (now Tokyo), past views of the legendary Mount Fuji. Viewers will experience the Japanese countryside as envisioned by landscape print masters Katsushika Hokusai (1760–1849), Utagawa Hiroshige (1797–1858), and others.

Upon arriving in Edo, visitors will enter a space evoking Yoshiwara, the historic entertainment district of Edo where prints featuring elegant courtesans and icons of the Kabuki theater will be on display.

Natural history prints, illustrated books, and prints from the era of modernization and westernization from the 1860s to 1930s will also be on view both at the museum and at the Robert and Karen Hoehn Family Print Galleries at the University of San Diego.

Of note is the Museum’s complete set of Hiroshige’s Famous Views of the Sixty-Odd Provinces, which includes awe-inspiring locations such as the floating Itsukushima shrine at Hiroshima, a tour-de-force of ancient Japanese engineering.

In 1859, on the heels of the forced opening of Japan to the West by the U.S. Naval Commodore Perry, the port at Yokohama was established and a new genre of woodblock prints arose known as Yokohama-e. The exhibition includes a special feature on the 1860s prints from Yokohama, San Diego’s sister city. Little studied until now, these prints provide access to the Japanese reception of foreigners in Yokohama, particularly Americans.

Another feature of the exhibition is the modern prints from the 1920s and 1930s known as Shinhanga, or “New Prints.” Artists such as Yoshida Hiroshi (1876–1950) and publishers, notably Watanabe Shozaburo, revived the traditional Japanese techniques of woodblock printmaking but now with the incorporation of a modern, westernized aesthetic.

Dreams and Diversions: 250 Years of Japanese Woodblock Prints from The San Diego Museum of Art will be on view for six months with a complete rotation of prints halfway through the run. It will be accompanied by a book containing a collection of essays with new research by scholars from Japan, the United States, and Europe including Hiroko Johnson, Okubo Junichi, Howard A. Link, and Andreas Marks.

A series of public programs will be associated with Dreams & Diversions including a lecture demonstration by artisans from the Adachi Institute of Woodcut Printing in Tokyo, a four-day Japanese woodblock-printmaking workshop, and a performance by Malashock Dance Company inspired by the works on view in this exhibition.

Guest Lecture: The Adachi Woodblock Printers on Hiroshige’s “Geese Flying Past the Full Moon”, November 15, 7:00 p.m. at James S. Copley Auditorium

Presenters: Chikura Kishi, master carver, and Yoshio Kyoso, master printer, Adachi Institute for Woodcut Printing, Tokyo.

Two of the few remaining artisans trained in the traditional techniques of Japanese woodblock carving and printing will demonstrate how a work in the Dreams & Diversions exhibition was designed, carved, and printed. $12 nonmembers/ $7 members, students, military and seniors. Free for November 16 workshop attendees.

Japanese Woodblock Printmaking Workshops, November 16-19, 9 a.m.-noon or 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at James S. Copley Auditorium

Under the instruction of traditional craftsmen from the Adachi Institute in a series of classes will be held on four consecutive days to create woodblock prints. The same four-day class is offered in both the morning and the evening. No experience required. Limit: 30 people per class. Must be 15 years of age or older. To register purchase tickets either at the museum’s admission desk or online at www.ticketsmaster.com. $200 per person, includes the cost of all materials from Japan.

For more information on programs happening in conjunction with Dreams & Diversions, contact Alexander Jarman at (619) 696-1978.

The exhibition is generously supported by Gordon J. Brodfuehrer, Mary Ann and Arnold Ginnow, Junko Koike, The Japan Foundation, Union Bank, The San Diego Museum of Art’s Asian Arts Council, and the Georges and Germaine Fusenot Charity Foundation in honor of Trustee Patricia H. Stone, Trustee Viveca S. Berry, and Captain Troy E. Stone.

Additional funding is provided by Captain G. B. Powell, Jr., the County of San Diego Community Enhancement Program, and members of The San Diego Museum of Art. Institutional support for the Museum is provided by the City of San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture.

The San Diego Museum of Art is located at 1450 El Prado in Balboa Park, San Diego, CA, 92101. General Information, (619) 232-7931, Group Sales: (619) 696-1935, Website: www.TheSanDiegoMuseumofArt.org, Twitter: @SDMA, http://www.facebook.com/TheSanDiegoMuseumofArt