Fri June 21 - Sun August 18, 2024

Japanese Prints in Transition: From the Floating World to the Modern World

In 1868 Japan's shogun was overthrown, marking the end of feudal military rule and ushering in the Meiji era (1868-1912), a period of modernization and exchange with other nations. As Japan's society shifted, so too did its print culture. The delicately colored ukiyo (floating world) woodcut prints of actors, courtesans, and scenic views that had flourished for over a century were replaced with brightly colored images of Western architecture, technology (trains, steam-powered ships, telegraph lines), Victorian fashions and customs, and modern military warfare. Featuring permanent collection works from the Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts that haven't been displayed for a more than a decade, this two-part exhibition (the floating world and the modern world) highlights this stylistic transition and the work of one artist, Tsukioka Yoshitoshi, who successfully spanned them both. His distinctive, sometimes eccentric, images serve as a link between the two eras.


Image Credit: Yoshu Chikanobu, "Imperial Party Visits the Park at Asukayama" (detail), 1888. Color woodcut triptych, 14 5/8 x 28 5/8 in (36 x 72.8 cm). Museum purchase, Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts Endowment Fund, 1987.1.43. Photograph by Randy Dodson, image courtesy of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.
In 1868 Japan's shogun was overthrown, marking the end of feudal military rule and ushering in the Meiji era (1868-1912), a period of modernization and exchange with other nations. As Japan's society shifted, so too did its print culture. The delicately colored ukiyo (floating world) woodcut prints of actors, courtesans, and scenic views that had flourished for over a century were replaced with brightly colored images of Western architecture, technology (trains, steam-powered ships, telegraph lines), Victorian fashions and customs, and modern military warfare. Featuring permanent collection works from the Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts that haven't been displayed for a more than a decade, this two-part exhibition (the floating world and the modern world) highlights this stylistic transition and the work of one artist, Tsukioka Yoshitoshi, who successfully spanned them both. His distinctive, sometimes eccentric, images serve as a link between the two eras.


Image Credit: Yoshu Chikanobu, "Imperial Party Visits the Park at Asukayama" (detail), 1888. Color woodcut triptych, 14 5/8 x 28 5/8 in (36 x 72.8 cm). Museum purchase, Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts Endowment Fund, 1987.1.43. Photograph by Randy Dodson, image courtesy of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.
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Art, Museums

Date/Times:
  • Fri Jun 21 (9:30am - 5:15pm)
  • Sat Jun 22 (9:30am - 5:15pm)
  • Sun Jun 23 (9:30am - 5:15pm)
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