Monday, March 8, 2010
Japan Society in New York Mag
New York magazine featured our upcoming Utagawa Kuniyoshi exhibit in their Art section! Here's an excerpt from their attentive and generous review:
"In an almost 50-year career, spanning the first half of the nineteenth century, Kuniyoshi pushed across boundaries. He uses every part of the frame, deploying strong colors and powerful forms. He also works many genres: landscapes, beautiful women, actors, cats, and mythical animals, not to mention the battles of samurai and legendary heroes for which he is best known. Formally, he is brilliantly innovative: His three-panel compositions revolutionized Japanese art by spreading one image over an entire triptych. Less obviously (at least from our vantage point), he fought the censorship that was imposed in Japan in 1842, fashioning colorful scenes of monsters and demons that contain oblique symbols. They were subtle enough that the bureaucracy permitted his work to be published and widely distributed, while his knowledgeable audience could spot the subtext.
The immediacy of these prints helped attract crowds to last year’s Kuniyoshi retrospective at the Royal Academy of Arts in London, and it should do the same when the exhibition comes to the Japan Society on March 12. It’s nearly all drawn from the collection of Arthur R. Miller, who taught civil procedure at Harvard Law for 36 years, has moderated several acclaimed public-television series on the law, and is now a professor at NYU. “Power,” he said, when I asked what it was about Kuniyoshi that initially captivated him. “I’ve always liked military history, and I liked the images of the samurai and the warriors.” Over 30 years, Miller has acquired close to 2,000 of the 10,000 prints that the artist is thought to have produced."