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Japanese Woodblock Prints to Fill the Galleries...Twice at Tacoma Art Museum
Watanabe Nobukazu, Picture of annual celebration of viewing of Noh (Chiyo no ju Noh juran no zu), 1901. Woodblock print, Triptych, each sheet: 14 1/2 x 9 7/8 inches. Tacoma Art Museum, Gift of Al and Betsy Buck in memory of Alfred Eliab Buck and Ellen Baker Buck, 2006.19.29 A-C. Photo credit: Richard Nicol.

TACOMA; WA.- Tacoma Art Museum is sharing one of Japan’s most popular art forms with the Northwest in their new exhibition Edo to Tacoma: Japanese Woodblock Prints from the Collection, which runs September 4, 2010 through February 13, 2011 (the exhibition will be closed the week of November 15 for gallery rotation). Long-considered one of Japan’s most popular art forms, this two-part exhibition showcases more than 140 Japanese woodblocks in Tacoma Art Museum’s permanent collection. Edo to Tacoma will present the largest and most comprehensive exhibition of Japanese woodblock prints from the museum collection to date. To highlight the breadth of the collection as the museum celebrates its 75th anniversary with the community and to preserve the artworks from light exposure, Edo to Tacoma will be comprised of two rotations—each approximately eight weeks long, and each containing prints from the late 17th century through the mid-20th century. Each rotation will feature masters such as Hishikawa Moronobu, Suzuki Harunobu, Katsushika Hokusai and Utagawa Hiroshige.

Organized by Tacoma Art Museum, Edo to Tacoma showcases the strength and range of the museum’s collection of Japanese woodblock prints, which spans three eras of Japanese art: the familiar and popular ukiyo-e prints of the Edo Period (1600–1868); the intriguing images of the Meiji Period (1868–1912), which reflect the impact of the West on Japan; and the works of 20th century printmakers who dealt with the legacy of ukiyo-e in the “New Print Movement” (Shin-hanga) or with the impact of Western ideas about the role of the individual artist in the modern “Creative Print Movement” (Sōsaku-hanga).

“The diversity of subject and the scope of history presented in these Japanese woodblock prints are remarkable,” said Zoe Donnell, Curatorial Coordinator for Tacoma Art Museum who curated the Edo to Tacoma exhibition. “The large number of works that will be on view really help us understand what made these popular in their day and why that popularity continues today.”

Tacoma Art Museum’s Japanese woodblock prints have come to the museum from several generous donors including the late Mrs. James W. Lyon, whose love of Japanese woodblock prints began as a young girl when she attended a lecture at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on the subject of ukiyo-e; Dr. and Mrs. Al and Betsy Buck, whose ancestor, Alfred Eliab Buck, was appointed Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to the Empire of Japan in the late 1800s; and many others.

“The museum is indebted to the collectors who have entrusted us with their works,” said Stephanie A. Stebich, Director of Tacoma Art Museum. “It is thanks to their donations that we can share such extensive exhibitions, programs, and scholarships with the community.”

In order to protect the works of art and limit their exposure to the harmful effects of light, there will be one complete rotation of the prints in the exhibition that will take place the week of November 15, 2010 (during which time the gallery will be closed). In addition, light levels in the gallery will be kept low. Each rotation will have approximately 70 works on view and will include several larger triptychs and one unusual mounted scroll.

Visitors will be able to feel the type of Japanese paper used to create woodblock prints as they view the different types of printmaking tools and carved woodblocks needed to complete the printing process.

Tacoma Art Museum | Edo to Tacoma | Zoe Donnell |

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