2013 / Thru March / LACMA / Spiritual Landmarks in Modern Japanese Prints


LACMA Saito Kiyoshi Daitokuji Kyoto

Saitō Kiyoshi (Japan, 1907-1997) Daitokuji Kyoto (C), 1959, Color woodblock print; ed. 12/100. Image: 39.6 x 53.0 cm. © LACMA

Spiritual Landmarks in Modern Japanese Prints

October 27, 2012 – March 2013

Pavilion for Japanese Art, level 3, Helen and Felix Juda Gallery

Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 5905 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90036

In the pre-modern era, especially the 19th century, pilgrimage was an accepted way of traveling to see the country. Artists depicted temples as part of scenic views or recorded them as souvenir images, which were popularly purchased and given as gifts or mementos.

In the 20th century, sacred places, especially Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines, were bastions against encroaching modernization.

Maintaining the atmosphere of a sanctuary, they preserve the grand architecture and sculpture of centuries long past.

Often city dwellers would find respite wandering in temple gardens and paying homage to its icons.

Artists practicing shin-hanga (new print) methods, in which they prepared designs for a publisher to assign to professional carvers and printers, explored deep into the countryside, catching glimpses of old ways of life which were quickly fading.

In towns they found aesthetic relief in the dramatic forms of pagodas or in their surrounding temple precincts.

Artists of the sōsaku-hanga (creative print) group, who mostly carved and colored their own prints to maintain full creative control over their work, often looked at the potential for abstract design within these protected spaces.

Devotional idols, inanimate objects enlivened through prayer, continue to inspire artists through their profound religious nature but also through the abstract form of their silhouettes.

One monk-artist, Ato Sengai, devoted himself to creating mandalas, using sacred colors and forms such as the lotus to aid meditation in viewers of his work.


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For further information about Japanese art exhibitions at LACMA, call (323) 857-6565