Southeast Missouri State University

The Floating World: Ukiyo-e Prints

August 23-October 23, 2011
Museum_Exh-Ukiyo-eWeb_2011

The Rosemary Berkel and Harry L. Crisp II Museum is proud to exhibit The Floating World scheduled to open August 23 and run through October 23, 2011.

The Floating World: Ukiyo-e Prints from the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art proudly shares 50 examples of wood panel prints from Japan's Edo Period. With the help of internationally known ukiyo-e print expert Frederick Gookin, LRMA founder Wallace B. Rogers created a superb collection in just under five years during the 1920s. Gookin's expertise and Rogers' funding yielded a collection rich in the works of Hiroshige, and expansive enough to include Hokusai, Utagawa, and other important printmakers. The collection was stored much of the 20th Century, and has rarely been exhibited outside of Mississippi.

Ukiyo-e, meaning "images of the floating world," refers to the theater and entertainment districts in Japanese cities, which arose around the official Shogunate municipality. The Edo Period, from 1600-1868, saw the strong emergence of publishing houses; hiring artists to depict an idea, craftsmen to create a drawing for each color, woodcarvers to then transfer the drawings to wood panels, and finally a printer to create the final product. Many of the Ukiyo-e prints were actually advertisement-like posters depicting popular actors, theater performances, and even guidebooks incorporating the traditional love of nature. One piece in the Floating World collection, Seirō Niwaka by Hidemaro, served as an advertisement for the annual autumn festival in Yoshiwara Yukwaku district.

Considered to be one of the last major masters of the Ukiyo-e style, Utagawa Hiroshige (1797-1858) alone produced over 8,000 prints and had an immense effect on landscape painting throughout the world. A student of Utagawa Toyohiro, Hiroshige created one famous series known as The 53 Post Stations of the Tōkaidō, depicting the way stations along the Tōkaidō highway, the main artery of old Japan. The Hōeidō edition of that series, with an astounding 27 works in the Floating World collection, is Hiroshige's best known. Released in ten different editions, the series included entirely new images in each set.

What once was an art known only to the Japanese is now a treasure shared by America and much of the world. Hiroshige's Farewell Poem (1858) seemed to foreshadow the collection's movement from the East to the West:

Upon the Eastern Road
My brush I've left behind
Now on a journey through the skies
I go see the famous places
In the Western Paradise

Financial assistance for this project has been provided by the Missouri Arts Council, a state agency.

The Crisp Museum is located in the Cultural Arts Center at River Campus, 518 S. Fountain St., Cape Girardeau, Missouri. Museum Hours weekdays: 10am to 5pm, weekends: 1pm to 4pm. For additional information email museum@semo.edu or call (573) 651-2301.

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