Arts & Entertainment

Walk through 2 centuries of woodblock printing at Tokyo museum

Tokyo, July 22 (efe-epa).- A Tokyo museum on Wednesday put on display 455 woodblock prints created over two centuries in one of the most comprehensive exhibitions of the art, known as “ukiyo-e,” which inspired impressionist painters of the 20th century.

The pieces by 60 artists at the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum include the “The Great Wave off Kanagawa” by Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849), considered the most widely circulated Japanese artwork across the world.

The journey through the block-print art begins with its origins in the Enpo Era (1673-1681) and continues up to the middle of the 19th century when Japanese woodcuts began to absorb foreign techniques and influences.

The exhibition combines collections from three museums – the Ota Memorial Museum, Japan Ukiyo-e Museum, and Hiraki Ukiyo-e Foundation – marking the first occasion that three of the greatest collections of this art offered at a single place. The exhibition will remain open until Sep.22.

The art of printing through wood began with artists such as Hishikawa Moronobu, at first in black and white, while orange and carnation pigments were added later and the prints eventually developed polychromatic imagery.

The technique touched its zenith in the village of Edo – the site of modern Tokyo- in the second half of the 17th century, and led to the popularization of art in the country because it allowed large-scale printing through woodblocks.

Ukiyo-e depicted domestic scenes, landscapes, portraits of women wearing their best jewelry, renowned actors with faces that expressed fury and scenes from kabuki, the traditional Japanese theater.

At times the art was also used on fans and greeting cars, but it essentially consisted of medium-sized impressions that were preserved in the Japanese households of the time as a status symbol.

Centuries later, the artwork influenced the development of modernist and impressionist art as well as cubism. EFE-EPA

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