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Saint Louis Art Museum Opens Five Centuries of Japanese Screens
Morita Shiryu, Japanese, 1912--1998; Dragon Knows Dragon, 1969; four-panel screen: aluminum flake pigment in polyvinyl acetate medium, yellow alkyd varnish, on paper; 63 3/4 x 120 7/8 inches; The Art Institute of Chicago, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Milton Fisher 1981.364

SAINT LOUIS, MO.- The Saint Louis Art Museum opened Five Centuries of Japanese Screens: Masterpieces from the Saint Louis Art Museum and the Art Institute of Chicago, a major exhibition that showcases rarely seen masterpieces of Japanese screens from the permanent collections of the two museums.

Unprecedented in its inclusion of premodern and contemporary works, Five Centuries of Japanese Screens, brings together rarely-seen masterpieces from the collections of the Saint Louis Art Museum and the Art Institute of Chicago. These exquisite examples of a traditional art form evoke feelings of tranquility and peace. Usually meant to be viewed folded, Japanese screens are functional works of art that are part utilitarian object and part creative expression. Their large size allows for artists to create sweeping visions that occupy a distinctive position in Japanese culture.

The Saint Louis Art Museum and the Art Institute of Chicago have united to present an exhibition that showcases a selection of the finest examples of Japanese folding screens, or byōbu, in their collections. This show is the first major exhibition to feature traditional Japanese screens on paper or silk along with modern and contemporary examples in less orthodox media such as lacquer and ceramic. The exhibition offers a rare and welcome chance for Museum visitors to see numerous impressive works together and experience the collective impact of these large-scale works.

Five Centuries of Japanese Screens includes 13 of the most important screens or pairs of screens from the Saint Louis Art Museum’s collection and 16 from the Art Institute’s collection. Due to their fragility and sensitivity to light, these screens are rarely seen in such large presentations.

Both the Art Institute and the Saint Louis Art Museum have been fortunate to acquire important works of art to include in the exhibition and catalogue. St. Louisans Oliver and Mary Langenberg, who through the Langenberg Endowment Fund, have made possible the recent acquisitions of Bamboo with Chinese Yew and Deer with Maples, attributed to Hasegawa Tōgaku, with calligraphy by Tetsuzan Sōdon, as well as the beautiful Irises and Eight-Fold Bridge screen by Sakai Hōitsu. The Museum has also benefited from the William K. Bixby Trust for Asian Art, funds given by Mr. and Mrs. Gyo Obata, and funds given by Mrs. James Lee Johnson Jr., through the Art Enrichment Fund toward the purchase of one of three parts of the series Mountain Lake Screen Tachi by Ōkura Jirō.

This exhibition is curated in St. Louis by Philip Hu, associate curator of Asian art.

The Saint Louis Art Museum | Five Centuries of Japanese Screens | Philip Hu |

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