21 March—7 June 2009
In The Sackler Wing of Galleries, Burlington House
Travel Partner Cox & Kings
Utagawa Kuniyoshi, Sakata Kaidō-maru wrestles with a giant carp, c. 1837. Colour woodblock, ōban, 37.8 x 26 cm American Friends of the British Museum (The Arthur R. Miller Collection) 21215. Photo © Trustees of the British Museum, London
The Royal Academy of Arts presents an exhibition on one of the greatest Japanese print artists, Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797-1861). Featuring over 150 works, the exhibition presents Kuniyoshi as a master of imaginative design. It reveals the graphic power and beauty of his prints across an unprecedented range of subjects highlighting his ingenious use of the triptych format.
The majority of the exhibition has been drawn from the outstanding collection of Professor Arthur R. Miller which has recently been donated to the American Friends of the British Museum. This is the first major exhibition in the United Kingdom on Utagawa Kuniyoshi since 1961.
Kuniyoshi was a major master of the ‘floating world’, or Ukiyo-e school of Japanese art, and, together with Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849), Utagawa Hiroshige (1797-1858) and Utagawa Kunisada (1786-1864), dominated nineteenth century printmaking in Japan. Prolific and multitalented, Kuniyoshi considerably expanded the existing repertoire of the school, particularly with thousands of designs that brought vividly to life famous military exploits in Japan and China. Kuniyoshi developed an extraordinarily powerful and imaginative style in his prints, often spreading a scene dynamically across all three sheets of the traditional triptych format and linking the composition with one bold unifying element - a major artistic innovation.
Kuniyoshi is the third exhibition in a series dedicated to Japanese Artists and Printmakers to be held at the Royal Academy of Arts. The previous exhibitions have been Hokusai (1991-92) and Hiroshige: Images of Mist, Rain, Moon and Snow (1997).
This exhibition has been organised by the Royal Academy of Arts in collaboration with Arthur R. Miller and The British Museum.
Kuniyoshi is curated by Timothy Clark, Head of the Japanese Section in the Department of Asia at the British Museum together with Japanese print specialist, Israel Goldman and Dr Adrian Locke of the Royal Academy of Arts.
"Canon is delighted to support this exhibition that shares and celebrates the traditional culture of Japan. As a Japanese company with a long tradition in supporting culture and society through the arts, we are proud to be associated with one of the world’s finest art institutions and one of the greatest Japanese artists, Utagawa Kuniyoshi."
- James Leipnik, Chief of Communication and Corporate Relations, Canon Europe