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Exhibition November 20, 2021 − January 30

From Ukiyo-e to Shin Hang: The Changing Taste of Japanese Woodblock Prints

A selection of Japanese woodblock prints from the Irwin Lavenberg Collection.

"From Ukiyo-e to Shin Hang: Changing Tastes in Japanese Woodblock Prints" illuminates the dramatic social, political and economic shifts in Japanese culture between the mid-19th and early 20th centuries through a close look at two artists: Toyohara Kunichika (1835- 1900) and Kawase Hasui (1883-1957).

Commercially produced ukiyo-e woodblock prints, "pictures of the floating world," were extremely popular during the Edo period (1615-1868) through the first half of the Meiji period (1868-1912). In Kunichiki's prints we see a celebration of vivid Japanese stories. He is one of the last great ukiyo-e masters, and his career spanned the heyday of ukiyo-e until its decline in the late 19th century.
As the demand for traditional woodblock prints declined in Japan, innovative print publisher Watanabe Shōzaburo (1885-1962) attempted to bring them back to life. Beginning in 1906, as a publisher of woodblock reproductions, Watanabe used the ukiyo-e business model to create a new type of woodblock print, aptly named shinanga, or "new prints.