There is a fantastic expo of Japanese prints at the Maison de la Culture du japon running until late December here in Paris. Curiously, it is the collection from Corfu in Greece but totally worth a hour or two for exploring. It covers all the major artists in this genre: Toshii Kiyonaga, Suzuki Habunobu, Kitagawa Utamaro, as well as the monumental Utagawa Hiroshige and Katsushika Hokusai. There are nearly 150 works exposed in moreor less chronological fashion most with good explanations of context for the work exposed. The geishas abound as do scenes of Yoshiwara and other Edo period haunts. I particularly treasured the winter scene of Hiroshige with the group of women pointing to a group of three flying birds. Such poetry in the composition, restraint in the colors but expressiveness of the landscape. There were, of course, some wonderful portraits of nō and kabuki actors as well as comical and war scenes.
It is hard to express exactly what draws me to ukiyo-e but probably it is linked to the simplicity imposed by the medium (relative small choice of colors and media, small surfaces, reproduceability) and yet the very Japanese ability to do more with less, this expo would serve as an excellent introduction to the newbe but has so many classic pieces and side stories that there is something here for everyone. And all for only 7€ entry fee!
I apologize for the name mispellings but as I don’t read or speak Japanese, I am pretty bad at remembering artists names as many in this expo shared several syllables.
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