Time is running short to see “Fresh Impressions: Early Modern Japanese Prints” at the Toledo Museum of Art.
The TMA collection of exquisite woodblock prints, on view together for the first time since 1930, is considered to be among the finest and most comprehensive collections of shin hanga (new prints) at any American museum.
When the exhibition ends on New Year’s Day, the prints will go back into protective storage containers so their brilliant colors do not fade and their beauty is protected for future generations to enjoy.
TMA helped introduce modern Japanese prints to American audiences in 1930 and 1936 with two exhibitions of works by contemporary Japanese artists who had revived the traditional art of the woodblock print for a new era.
During the 1930s the Toledo Museum of Art introduced
Chief Curator Carolyn Putney, whose specialty is Asian art, has revisited and reinterpreted the 1930 landmark show, adding a few new elements, such as kimono, Kabuki Theater costumes and traditional Japanese swords and armor, however the stars of the exhibition remain the 343 prints by 10 leading artists of the shin hanga movement. The shin hanga movement began in Japan around 1915 and is noted for combining traditional Japanese woodblock technique with an interest in Western aesthetics and a vivid, modern color. The era has been described as a period of Renaissance in Japanese woodblock printmaking.
All but a handful of the prints are owned by the museum. Most of them were donated in 1939 by local print collector Hubert D. Bennett, who at the time was president of Toledo Scale and a member of the Museum’s board of directors.
The prints encompass a variety of subject matter, including traditional landscapes, seascapes, rivers and lakes, beautiful women (bijinga), actors (yakusha-e), the natural world and wildlife, cities, towns and temples, as well as Western-inspired still life and genre scenes.
The exhibition is made possible by members of the Toledo Museum of Art and supported in part by Bridgestone APM Company and by Douglas and Elaine Barr. It is also is supported in part by the Ohio Arts Council’s sustainable grant program funded in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Admission to the exhibition and to the Museum is free. The companion catalog can be purchased through the Museum Store and online at toledomuseum.org.