The Vanderbilt University Fine Arts Gallery to Show the Arts of Japan

artwork: Utagawa Hiroshige - "Ishibe: Megawa Village (Ishibe, Megawa no sato)", (from The Fifty-three Stations of the Tokaido - No. 52), 1834 - Woodblock print 8 1/2” x 13 1/2” - Collection of the Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee. On view in "The Arts of Japan" from January 12th until February 26th 2012.

Nashville, Tennessee.- The Vanderbilt University Fine Arts Gallery is pleased to announce the opening of “The Arts of Japan”, on view from January 12th through February 26th 2012. The exhibition is drawn entirely from the Fine Arts Gallery’s permanent collection which houses over 1,300 Japanese works, encompassing both fine and applied art. Highlights of the exhibition will include two six-panel screen paintings: an early seventeenth-century work illustrating scenes from the Tale of Gengi and an eighteenth-century work featuring vignettes of daily life in Kyoto, each a masterful example of Japanese painting executed in mineral colors and gold leaf; a wide range of fine ceramics from blue and white porcelain to works by artists associated with the rebirth of the Japanese folk art movement; scroll paintings; over fifty woodblock prints by recognized masters of the medium; exquisite examples of lacquer, some embellished with gold and silver; and a selection of illustrated rare books.

Two scroll paintings depicting winter landscapes will be on display which new research has revealed to have a surprising connection. One is by 17th century painter Kano Naonobu. The other, previously thought to be by an unknown artist, has recently been securely attributed to Kano Yasunobu, the younger brother of Naonobu. These brothers, each a skillful artist in his own right, were descendants of the Kano family who led the influential Kano School of painting.  For centuries, the Kano family dominated official painting in Japan, passing their closely guarded inkpainting techniques among their family and to a select group of apprentices. “The Arts of Japan” will mark the first time these scroll paintings have been exhibited together as works by the same prominent family of artists.

artwork: Unknown Artist from the Tosa School - "Six panel screen with scenes from the Tale of Genji", 17th century Ink and color on gold leaf - 54" x 109" -  Collection of the Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee.

The exhibition will also feature outstanding examples of graphic arts by such influential nineteenth-century Ukiyo-e artists as Utagawa Kunisada I, Utagawa Hiroshige, and Tsukioka Yoshitoshi. Japanese for “pictures of the floating world,” Ukiyo-e prints were usually characterized by themes of ephemeral beauty or pleasure, often including scenes of Japanese landscapes, attractive courtesans, and the theater. Among the featured Ukiyo-e prints, several will be from Yoshitoshi’s popular series Yoshitoshi Ryakuga (Sketches by Yoshitoshi).  These prints, illustrating episodes from Japanese folklore and history, show a comedic and light-hearted side of this typically dark artist. Select prints from Utagawa Hiroshige’s series Fifty-Three Staions of the Tokaido Road will also be on view. This series, drawn from Hiroshige’s own travels on the Tokaido Road connecting Edo, modern day Tokyo, to Kyoto, was the artist’s first attempt at a landscape print series and eventually contributed to his status as the foremost artist of topographical prints of his time. “The Arts of Japan” will also allow visitors to view the evolution of Japanese printmaking in the twentieth century through examples by artists of the shin-hanga and sosaku-hanga movements.

After the decline of Ukiyo-e in the late nineteenth century, the shin-hanga (literally “new prints”) movement, begun in 1912, sought to revive the subjects and style of the traditional Japanese Ukiyo-e, in some instances with added traces of Western aesthetics. At the same time, the sosaku-hanga (translated as “creative prints”) movement rejected the traditional division of labor in Japanese printmaking for a more Western method in which a single artist completed every step of the printmaking process, thus allowing for greater individual artistic control and expression. Examples from shin-hanga artists such as Takahashi Hiroaki (Shotei) and Tsuchiya Koitsu as well as sosaku-hanga artists such as Joichi Hoshi and Reika Iwami will be on display.

artwork: Tsukioka Yoshitoshi - "The Buddhist Priest, Nichiren, in Exile on Sado Island", circa 1882 Woodblock print - 6 15/16” x 9 3/16” - Collection of the Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN

The Vanderbilt University Fine Arts Gallery in Nashville, Tennessee, is a leading collegiate art gallery. Beginning with Anna C. Hoyt’s generous donation of 105 Old Master and modern prints more than 50 years ago, the collection has continued to flourish and increase the depth, diversity, and number of its holdings. Now totaling more than 5,500 works, it serves to illustrate the history of world art in its most creative and comprehensive aspects. This art historical collection is the only one of its kind in the area, serving the needs of students and the wider community. The collection has grown to include strong works in East Asian art with the Harold P. Stern Collection, the Chauncey P. Lowe Collection, and the Herman D. Doochin Collection; European Old Master paintings with the Samuel H. Kress Collection; paintings from the Barbizon school; and African, Oceanic, and Pre-Columbian art and artifacts from the Marjorie and Leon Marlowe Collection. In recent years, the gallery has sought to increase its holdings of works by internationally recognized contemporary artists. Examples from this portion of the collection include Arion Press’ Biotherm by Frank O’Hara with lithographs by Jim Dine; Louis Bourgeois and Arthur Miller’s Homely Girl, A Life, published by Peter Blum Editions; Paesaggi by Mimmo Paladino, published by Waddington Graphics; Leslie Dill’s A Word Made Flesh and her Homage to N.S., published by Landfall Press; and Enrique Chagoya’s The Enlightened Savage, published by Trillium Press; as well as graphics by artists such as Tjeu Teeuwen, Peter Foolen, Hans Waanders, Kees Verbeck, Ian Hamilton Finlay, Richard Long, Joseph Kosuth, Roni Horn, Mona Hatoum, Hamish Fulton, and Sol LeWitt. In addition to gifts of important pieces from university supporters, objects have been acquired through corporate and special purchases made possible with funds from the Vanderbilt Art Association, the Dr. and Mrs. E. William Ewers Gift for Fine Arts, and numerous private donors. The Fine Arts Collection is used for the development of temporary exhibitions as well as for student study and research. Therefore the entire collection is not on view in its entirety at any given time; however, the majority of the collection can be explored through our Collection DatabaseAdmission is free and the public is welcome to attend. Visit the gallery’s website at …