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A Century of Japanese Prints
August 11, 2017—January 28, 2018
Galleries 234 and 235, Main Building


Degas Self-Portrait
Kobayakawa Kiyoshi, Japanese, 1899–1948; Tipsy, from the series "Modern Styles of Women", 1930; color woodblock print with mica; sheet: 20 1/2 × 12 inches; Saint Louis Art Museum, The Langenberg Endowment Fund 119:2016

A Century of Japanese Prints presents a selection of the Museum’s finest examples of modern and contemporary Japanese prints from the 20th and 21st centuries, two thirds of which have never before been displayed at the Museum. Unfolding over 100 years, the works in the exhibition span new prints (shin hanga), creative prints (sōsaku hanga), and postwar and contemporary prints.

Commercially published new prints brought a modern sensibility to the traditions of ukiyo-e, "pictures of the floating world," a category of woodblock prints and paintings that depict beautiful women, kabuki actors, landscapes, and scenes from everyday life that flourished between the mid-18th and early 20th centuries. The 2016 acquisition "Tipsy," a renowned image by artist Kobayakawa Kiyoshi (1899–1948), depicts a "modern girl"—Japan's answer to the 1920s flapper.

Artists of the creative print movement rejected the commercialism of ukiyo-e and new prints, and instead explored the potential of printmaking to be a medium of artistic expression equal to painting and sculpture. To assert complete creative authority over their works, many artists insisted on carving and printing their own designs, frequently resulting in a rough finish that celebrated the material qualities of the woodblock.

Printmaking continued to flourish and diversify during the post-war period. Japanese artists found new patrons among members of the Occupation, participated in international juried exhibitions, travelled widely, and lived abroad. Moving beyond the practices of shin hanga and sōsaku hanga, artists began working with techniques such as etching, screen-printing, and inkjet printing, and engaging with international art movements such as Conceptualism and Minimalism.

A Century of Japanese Prints is curated by Rhiannon Paget, who recently completed a two-year term as the Museum’s Andrew W. Mellon Fellow for Japanese Art.

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Accessible Content

Large print labels for A Century of Japanese Prints are available on your own device or at the Taylor Hall Information Center. Please note: Wi-Fi availability in the Museum's historic Cass Gilbert building is limited.
The Saint Louis Art Museum is working to expand Wi-Fi availability campus-wide. Wi-Fi and cellular coverage are still limited in many areas of our historic Cass Gilbert Building.

Free Wi-Fi is available in Sculpture Hall and can be accessed via the SLAM_GUEST network.

Map of Level 2 of the Saint Louis Art Museum, Galleries 234 and 235 Highlighted

A Century of Japanese Prints is curated by Rhiannon Paget, who recently completed a two-year term as the Museum’s Andrew W. Mellon Fellow for Japanese Art.