The First Art Newspaper on the Net Established in 1996 United States Saturday, September 5, 2015


Woodblock prints by Japan's first Modern artist debut at the Smithsonian's Sackler Gallery
Kobayashi Kiyochika, Kudanzaka at Night in Early Summer. Meiji era, 1880. Woodblock print; ink and color on paper. H x W (overall): 24.2 x 35.6 cm (9 1/2 x 14 in). Robert O. Muller Collection. Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution.
WASHINGTON, DC.- The Japanese city of Edo ceased to exist Sept. 3, 1868. Renamed Tokyo (“Eastern Capital”) by Japan’s new rulers, the city became the central experiment in a national drive towards modernization. In “Kiyochika: Master of the Night,” on view at the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery March 29–July 12, the radically transforming capital city reappears in a series of woodblock prints by Kobayashi Kiyochika. The exhibition is open during the National Cherry Blossom Festival (March 20–April 22), Washington, D.C.’s springtime celebration of Japanese culture.

A self-taught artist and minor retainer of the Tokugawa shogun deposed in 1868, Kiyochika (1847–1915) returned to Tokyo from self-imposed exile in 1874 to discover his hometown transformed by railroads, steamships, gaslights and brick buildings—all beyond imagination just a few years earlier. He set out to record these new scenes, where old and new stood together in awkward alliance, in an auspicious and ambitious series of 100 woodblock prints.

While a devastating fire engulfed the city in 1881, effectively ending the project, the 93 prints he had completed were unlike anything previously produced by a Japanese artist. Kiyochika used age-old techniques to produce the prints themselves, but chose unusually subdued colors and mimicked the look and feel of Western photographs, copperplate engraving and oil painting.

“Kiyochika upends the celebratory role of the cityscape in Japanese art and instead creates a nagging sense of unease,” said James Ulak, exhibition curator and senior curator of Japanese art at the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery. “His view is a stark one, of men and women on the verge of a world with all the old props kicked away. There are no heavens or hells; no intercessory gods or troublesome demons. Some viewers say they can feel the silence in his prints.”

Widely regarded as Japan’s first artist with a distinctly modern tone, Kiyochika conveyed a sense of curiosity, detachment and melancholy about the vistas and events he depicted. His innovative use of color explored the possibilities of light—both man-made and natural, from dusk to dawn—and subjects drift through moody shades of gray and blue interspersed with fireworks, moonlight, gaslight and fireflies. Equally startling are his human figures. Often silhouetted, they are at once together and alone—observers, rather than actors, in an oddly quiet landscape.

The series was met with some early acclaim, but faded into relative obscurity when Kiyochika abandoned his project after Tokyo’s 1881 fires. He did live to see Nagai Kafu (1879–1959), a prominent critic and literary figure, lead a modest revival of appreciation in the early 20th century. Kafu was a passionate Francophile, and had experienced Paris first hand and later translated the critical works of Charles Baudelaire (1821–67) into Japanese. It was Baudelaire who, upon seeing his Paris transformed, coined the term “modernity” to describe the fleeting, ephemeral experience of life in the metropolis.

Within “Master of the Night,” Kafu’s voice provides an introduction to the artist and his time, but other themes soon take over: Japan’s experimentation with Western technology, the strangeness of Western-style brick buildings, nightlife and the anonymity it provided, and the power of the fire that eventually destroyed the city.

The works on view are part of the Sackler Gallery’s Robert O. Muller Collection, which features among its 4,000 Japanese woodblock prints the most comprehensive survey of Kiyochika’s body of work, including the largest collection of his cityscapes.

The themes of “Master of the Night” echo in the related exhibition “An American in London: Whistler and the Thames” (May 3–Aug. 17), featuring James McNeill Whistler’s (1859–1903) images of London’s iconic waterways. The more than 70 works on view—including paintings, prints, drawings, watercolors and pastels—show the city’s dramatically changing urban environment, and represent a profound assault on the art establishment of the time. In Whistler’s famous nocturnes, the visitor experiences another artist’s impressions of the city at night.





Today's News

April 15, 2014

"Hogarth, Reynolds, Turner: British Painting and the Rise of Modernity" opens in Rome

Art Gallery of South Australia secures major Impressionist painting by Camille Pissarro

Woodblock prints by Japan's first Modern artist debut at the Smithsonian's Sackler Gallery

Sotheby's to sell the only known marine work by Danish artist Vilhelm Hammershøi

Magnificent jewels at Sotheby's to feature singular colored gemstones & jewels owned by Eydie Gorme

Irene Leache memorial gifts to Chrysler Museum strengthen collection, bridge past with future

Hillwood appoints curator of 19th-century art; Re-dates Faberge imperial Easter egg

Photographer Mario Testino named President of World Monuments Fund Peru

New to the auction market: Images of boats at sea by Ireland's leading artists offered at Bonhams

Opteres to hold Modern art unveiling and sale on eve of Art Basel Hong Kong

Beautiful Bentleys and a 'Rambo Lambo' amongst highlights for sale at Bonhams

Original watercolor illustrations by James Warhola on view at the Demuth Museum

Record-setting capsule, pressure suit and parachute donated to the Smithsonian

Exhibition at Art Institute of Chicago examines the city's architectural legacy and future potential

Tiffany Kashmir sapphire gold ring may bring $175,000 at Heritage Auctions in New York

Jeffrey S. Evans auction of Palmer Collection shows strength of southern decorative arts market

The Estate of Ray Frost Fleming, owner of Robert Kidd Gallery, highlights Heritage Auctions sale

Nazi memorabilia sale stopped after Jewish protests

First UK retrospective of visionary French artist Chris Marker opens at the Whitechapel Gallery

Early 1990s works on view at NYU's Grey Art Gallery

Viking Adventures from the British Museum to screen at cinemas across the UK

Exhibition of new works by Dutch artist Berndnaut Smilde opens at Ronchini Gallery

Most Popular Last Seven Days



1.- Largest outdoor museum show to attract thousands to downtown West Palm Beach

2.- Northwestern University finds unusual use of blue pigment in ancient mummy portraits

3.- The finest opal ever unearthed will be publicly displayed for the first time in Australia

4.- New scientific research dispels myths surrounding portrait by Sandro Botticelli

5.- Taiwan boy accidentally damages $1.5 million painting by Italian artist Paolo Porpora

6.- From Rolex to buttocks: Body and Freedom Festival comes to home of Swiss watch

7.- Ai Weiwei's 'Forever' to be installed outside the Gherkin as part of Sculpture in the City 2015

8.- Italian "Flowers" painting damaged in Taiwan could be a fake: Expert Sean Hu

9.- Archaeologists unearth ancient Greek palace with important archaic inscriptions near Sparta

10.- Islamic State militants blow up temple in Syria's Palmyra: Syria's antiquities chief



Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .

 

Founder:
Ignacio Villarreal
Editor & Publisher:Jose Villarreal - Consultant: Ignacio Villarreal Jr.
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez
Social Network Manager and Translator: Norma Cristina Pérez Ayala Cano
Special Contributor: Liz Gangemi - Marketing: Carla Gutiérrez
Contributing Editor: Carolina Farias - Special Advisor: Carlos Amador

Royalville Communications, Inc
produces:

ignaciovillarreal.org theavemariasound.org juncodelavega.org facundocabral-elfinal.org
Founder's Site. The most varied versions
of this beautiful prayer.
Hommage
to a Mexican poet.
Hommage
       

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site