Importance of Place in Japanese Art is Explored Through Special Exhibition Opening This Fall

Distributed August 30, 2018

Picturing Place in Japan, on view at the Princeton University Art Museum, showcases important loans and recent acquisitions

PRINCETON, NJ—The representation of place has been a dominant subject of Japanese painting throughout history. Sometimes these scenes evoke the topography of an actual location, but often the place depicted was imagined or based primarily on past images. Featuring a number of significant loans from the Gitter-Yelen Collection of Dr. Kurt A. Gitter and Alice Yelen Gitter, along with past Museum acquisitions from that collection and works drawn from the holdings of the Princeton University Art Museum, Princeton’s Marquand Library and East Asian Library, and the Gest Collection,Picturing Place in Japan will take viewers on a journey through space and time. The exhibition includes nearly forty paintings, prints, books and photographs, from the sixteenth through the twenty-first centuries, that collectively explore the varied meaning of place to Japanese artistic practice over these epochs. For Japanese artists, pictures of place were a means of exploring brushwork and form, as well as evoking poetry, paradise, distant China, sacred locations and the familiar or remote famous places of Japan.

Tachihara Kyōsho, 1785 - 1840, Edo period, 1615–1868, Painting, 1806. Hanging scroll; ink on paper.Organized by Andrew M. Watsky, Professor of Japanese Art and Archaeology, and Caitlin Karyadi, doctoral candidate at Princeton University, in collaboration with Cary Liu, Nancy and Peter Lee Curator of Asian Art at the Art Museum, Picturing Place in Japan will be on view exclusively at the Princeton University Art Museum from Oct. 20, 2018 through Feb. 24, 2019.

Picturing Place affords audiences the opportunity to engage with one of the most central traditions within the history of Japanese art,” said James Steward, Nancy A. Nasher–David J. Haemisegger, Class of 1976, Director. “The exhibition showcases great works from the Gitter-Yelen Collection and demonstrates the growth of Princeton’s own holdings of Japanese art, while also acting as an interesting companion to our path-breaking fall exhibition Nature’s Nation: American Art and Environment, which offers an expansive new vision of American art history through an environmental lens.”

Katsushika Hokusai 葛飾北斎, 1760–1849, Edo period, 1615 –1868, Japanese, The Hanging Bridge on the Boundaries of Hida and Etchū Provinces, ca. 1834. Woodblock print (ō ban yoko-e format); ink and color on paper. Museum purchase, Laura P. Hall Memorial Fund and Mary Trumbull Adams Art Fund.Picturing Place will be divided into three sections: “Imagined Places,” with paintings of imaginary sites, including dramatic landscapes that show off virtuoso brushwork and that were often based on pictorial precedents painted in styles associated with China; “Famous Places,” which includes paintings and woodblock prints of Japan’s renowned Mount Fuji as well as other celebrated locales; and “Sacred Places,” featuring images of temples and shrines. This section concludes with photographs of the Fukushima earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster site, a new geography of place in Japan affording special meanings and connotations.

Complementing Picturing Place in Japan, a number of superb works of Japanese art from the distinguished Gitter-Yelen Collection, recently acquired by the Princeton University Art Museum, will be highlighted this fall in the Museum’s Asian galleries. Among these acquisitions, which mostly date from the Edo period (1615–1868), are works by major artists representing the Literati, Zen, Rinpa and Individualist painting schools.

Picturing Place in Japan will be accompanied by a gallery guide spotlighting select objects as well as affiliated public programs throughout the fall, including a panel discussion presented by the Tang Center for East Asian Art on November 8.

Picturing Place in Japan is made possible by the Allen R. Adler, Class of 1967, Exhibitions Fund; the P.Y. and Kinmay W. Tang Center for East Asian Art, Princeton University; the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts; and the Partners of the Princeton University Art Museum.  

About the Princeton University Art Museum

With a collecting history that extends back to 1755, the Princeton University Art Museum is one of the leading university art museums in the country, with collections that have grown to include over 100,000 works of art ranging from ancient to contemporary art and spanning the globe.

Committed to advancing Princeton’s teaching and research missions, the Art Museum also serves as a gateway to the University for visitors from around the world. Intimate in scale yet expansive in scope, the Museum offers a respite from the rush of daily life, a revitalizing experience of extraordinary works of art and an opportunity to delve deeply into the study of art and culture.

The Princeton University Art Museum is located at the heart of the Princeton campus, a short walk from the shops and restaurants of Nassau Street. Admission is free. Museum hours are Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Thursday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; and Sunday 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. The Museum is closed Mondays and major holidays.

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