June 06, 2013
August 18, 2013
Honolulu Museum of Art
The warrior culture of samurai (literally "those who serve") is one of the most fascinating aspects of traditional Japan. Through sources such as James Clavell's 1975 novel Shōgun and the television series it inspired, and movies like the 1977 Star Wars, samurai were introduced to millions outside Japan, rapidly gaining a place of prominence in American popular culture. The spiritual beliefs, social practices and artistic aesthetics surrounding samurai have attained a universal status that is immediately familiar. Samurai have inspired everything from business strategies to video games.
At the same time, samurai have become increasingly separated from their original historical context, and often the general public is unaware of the extent to which their familiar cultural icons were influenced by traditional Japanese art. For example, how many people know that Darth Vader's helmet was inspired by a Japanese original? Lethal Beauty: Samurai Weapons and Armor is one of the most comprehensive exhibitions on samurai ever created. The dramatic installation of high-quality art looks at the complex role of samurai and the "way of the warrior" within classical Japanese society.
Comprising approximately 63 works by more than 30 master craftsmen from the 13th to 20th centuries, Lethal Beauty features full suits of armor, helmets, warrior hats, face masks, long and short swords, daggers, rifles, and more.
Integrated into the exhibition will be a selection of the Honolulu Museum of Art’s Japanese woodblock prints, including work by such artists as Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797-1862), the archetypal samurai artist who was recently the subject of a major retrospective in Japan.
Lethal Beauty was curated by Dr. Andreas Marks, Clark Center for Japanese Art and Culture, and tour organized by International Arts & Artists, Washington, DC.
Current tour schedule for Lethal Beauty: Samurai Weapons and Armor:
Currier Museum of Art, Manchester, NH, Feb 2-May 5, 2013; San Antonio Museum of Art, San Antonio, TX, Sept 28, 2013-Jan 5, 2014; Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit, MI, March 9-June 1, 2014; Birmingham Museum of Art, Birmingham, AL, June 28-Sept 20, 2014; and the Katonah Museum of Art, Katonah, NY, Oct 12, 2014-Jan 4, 2015.
The four-color exhibition catalogue is available in the Honolulu Museum of Art Shop and online.