On Saturday, August 25, 2012, Amherst College's Mead Art Museum
opened Reinventing Tokyo: Japan's Largest City in the Artistic Imagination, the first exhibition ever held in the United States to consider portrayals of Tokyo in light of the city's continual reinvention since its founding, under the name Edo, more than 400 years ago.
Using a carefully selected group of woodblock prints, scroll paintings, photographs, kimonos, and fashion dating from the end of the Edo period in the 19th century to the present day, Reinventing Tokyo documents the changes that took place as the city modernized and westernized in the Meiji era, became the center of modern urban life in Japan before the Second World War, and rebuilt itself as part of the country's economic miracle in the postwar decades. It concludes by addressing the ways in which Tokyo has adapted to the future visions of planners who strive to create yet another new city for the 21st century. The exhibition draws on the Mead's celebrated holdings of Japanese art, and includes works from important private and public collections in Japan and the United States, including the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography; the Hamaya Hiroshi Archive; the Kageyama Kōyō Archive; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the Allen Memorial Art Museum at Oberlin College; the John C. Weber Collection; and the Leonard Lauder Collection.
"The Mead is honored to bring this exciting project developed from an innovative, team-taught, collection-based Amherst College course before a wide public," noted the Mead's director, Elizabeth Barker. "The exhibition offers a compelling glimpse into one of the world's great cities, and explores its transforming impact on generations of artists. Beautiful and provocative by turns, Reinventing Tokyo promises to change the way we think about Japanese art of the past two centuries."
Reinventing Tokyo remains on view through Sunday, December 30, 2012. The exhibition is accompanied by an extensive program of events, all free and open to the public, listed on the museum's website.