Ukiyo-e par Excellence at the Honolulu Academy of Arts

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    Tôshûsai Sharaku (active 1793-94), 
Actor Ichikawa Ebizô as Takemura Sadanoshin in the play 
Koinyôbô Somewake Tazuna, Color woodblock print
, Japan, Edo period, 1794
36.9 x 24.3 cm, 
Gift of James A. Michener, 1989

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February 24, 2011 - April 24, 2011
Gallery 21

Exhibition Overview

In conjunction with the annual meeting of the Association of Asian Studies and the International Convention of Asia Scholars that will be held in Honolulu in April, the Academy puts on view its premier ukiyo-e of the Edo period (1615-1868), along with rare paintings and printed books. The exhibition chronologically traces the history of ukiyo-e as well as introduces various genres of the art including bijin-ga (pictures of beautiful women), yakusha-e (actor prints) and landscapes.    

The Academy’s Japanese collection of more than 10,000 woodblock prints ranges from the early modern to the contemporary periods (1600s-1980s). Museum founder Anna Rice Cooke assembled a collection of more than 300 ukiyo-e prints—many of them obtained through the famed art dealer Nomura Yōzō who was known for helping to shape Charles Lang Freer’s Japanese art collection, now at the Smithsonian’s Museums of Asian Art in Washington, D.C. She donated them to the Academy in 1927, when the museum opened to the public.

Later, Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist James A. Michener (1907-1997) donated his collection of approximately 5,400 prints to the Academy, which was followed by more than 1,500 woodblock prints given by local collector Philip Roach Jr. Together with the purchase of the Richard Lane Collection of Japanese art and books in 2003, the Japanese print collection has become one of the Academy’s most prized assets. Every year, scholars from around the world visit the museum to research this valuable cultural resource.

Ukiyo Par Excellence includes highlights such as Tôshûsai Sharaku’s (active ca.1793-1794) print Actor Ichikawa Ebizô as Takemura Sadanoshin as well as many other masterpieces by early ukiyo-e masters, including examples from Harunobu, Kiyonaga, Utamaro and the Kaigetsudō, Torii and Utagawa Schools.