Art April 30, 2010 By Rachel A Maggart


Mount Mongaku Does Penance in Nachi Waterfall, 1851. All artwork by Utagawa Kuniyoshi, All photography © Trustees of the British Museum. Courtesy of Japan Society. (Click Images to Enlarge)

graphicheroestitle Utagawa Kuniyoshi

From embattled warriors to writhing sea creatures, ukiyo-e aficionados and comic book collectors will find their niche in the fearsome and fantastic, now on display at the Japan Society through June 13. Showcasing exquisitely detailed woodblock prints by the godfather of modern video games and anime, Graphic Heroes, Magic Monsters: Japanese Prints by Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797-1861), from the Arthur R. Miller Collection,” is a not-to-be-missed exhibition organized by Timothy Clark, head of the Japanese section of the British Museum. An action-packed show grouped in warrior, landscape, kabuki, beautiful women, and kyoga (literally “crazy pictures”) categories, the 130-print pictorama includes gems from the collection of NYU legal scholar Arthur R. Miller, rough sketches unearthed from the Victoria and Albert Museum and even onsite drawing by the mangaka-in-residence Hiroki Otsuka. Moved by the master printmaker, Otsuka will create a full-length comic strip as an interactive “meta-narrative” for exhibition goers.
     Having created roughly 10,000 prints, Kuniyoshi can be viewed a powerful Pop Art progenitor who worked to satisfy the insatiable appetite of Edo period manga fan equivalents (at a rate of two soba platefuls per print, scholars estimate). But apart from his staggering output, the artist is celebrated for his spirited defiance and slew of creative tangents despite his censorial 1840s Tokugawa shogunate.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8