Warriors, Maidens, and Foxes: Kabuki in Japanese Woodblock Prints

  • Exhib_slideshow_014404_2

    Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797-1861) Foxes Practicing the Art of Shapeshifting Japan, Edo period, ca. 1840s Woodblock print; ink and color on paper Gift of James A. Michener, 1959 (14404) 

April 01, 2010 - May 23, 2010
Robert F. Lange Foundation Gallery (Gallery 21)

Exhibition Overview


Since its inception, ukiyo-e, the art of the Floating World, has been intimately connected with Kabuki theater. Ukiyo-e artists not only painted signboards and other advertisements for the newest Kabuki plays, but also mass produced woodblock images of celebrated actors in their most recent roles that were avidly collected by their fans. Several families of artists, including the
Torii, Katsukawa, and Utagawa, specialized in Kabuki actor portraits, resulting in some of the best-known images of ukiyo-e.
This exhibition will explore the depiction of Kabuki subjects and actors in Japanese woodblock prints from the 17th through the 19th centuries, with works by some of the most famous ukiyo-e artists, including the Utagawa School print designers Toyokuni, Kunisada, Kuniyoshi, and Hiroshige. 
Warriors, Maidens, and Foxes is the second in a two-part series organized jointly by the Academy’s Asian Art Department, the Center for Japanese Studies at the University of Hawai‘i, and a graduate course in Japanese Literature of the Edo period supervised by Professor Joel Cohn. The exhibition was curated by graduate students Erica Abbott, RaeAnn Dietlin, Daniel Sargent, Christopher Smith, and Patrick Woo.