Fine Arts Museum News
Japanese Prints Exhibition
Michele & Donald D'Amour Museum of Fine Arts
February 21, 2008
Woodblock prints inspired by animals both real and imagined will be on view at the Springfield Museum of Fine Arts from March 4-September 7, 2008, in the exhibition Curious Creatures: Japanese Prints from the Permanent Collection.
Woodblock prints were made by printing an image carved into the surface of a wooden block onto a sheet of paper. It was common to use several carved wood blocks, one for each color, to achieve the final image.
Curious Creatures offers a glimpse into the varied approaches used by 19th- and 20th-century artists such as Utagawa Kuniyoshi, Andō Hiroshige, Ōhara Shōson, Utagawa Yoshi-Iku, and Takahashi Shotei. From the delicate fins of a goldfish, to the menacing tentacles of an octopus, to the fierce eyes of a dragon, the prints represent the artists' masterful techniques and exquisite use of color.
The prints on view are all from the large collection of ukiyo-e prints and paintings donated to the Museum of Fine Arts by Springfield attorney Raymond A. Bidwell. Ukiyo-e, which means "floating world," depicted the amusements and pleasures of the townspeople during the Tokugawa Period (1615-1858) in Japan. Affordable and plentiful, the prints' subject matter included famous courtesans and beautiful women, life in the entertainment district of Edo (Tokyo), acclaimed Kabuki theater actors, pictures of family life, Japanese mythical figures, animals, and beautiful sites around Japan.