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Utagawa Kuniyoshi. In the realm of legend and fantasy

21 October 2011  -  15 January 2012

National Museum in Cracow - Szołayski House, ul. Szczepańska 11

The honorary patron of the exhibition is the Embassy of Japan in Poland.

On the 150th anniversary of the death of Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797-1861), Japanese ukiyo-e artist, the National Museum in Cracow is organizing an exhibition of his works. The aim of the show is to present the creations of one of the world's most remarkable woodblock artists, based on the National Museum in Cracow's collection.

At present, the collection based on the donation of Feliks "Manggha" Jasieński contains over 260 woodblock prints and album publications. Over 100 works will be displayed at the Szołayski House. Kuniyoshi was one of the last great artists of the so-called "golden age", or the classical period of ukiyo-e woodblock printing. Exhibits dedicated to a single Japanese artist are rare in Poland, and in particular to a creator of this calibre.

Ukiyo-e is the name of the trend in art of the Edo period (1603-1868), when Japan, united after many years of fratricidal wars, achieved peace for over 260 years under the reign of the Tokugawa clan. This was simultaneously a period of isolation for the country, which had a distinctive influence on the art of those times. "Ukiyo-e" literally means "pictures of the floating world", in which the world around us is perceived as fleeting moments, flowing by "like a gourd carried along with the river current".With his imagination and inventiveness, Kuniyoshi inspired wonder among not only his contemporaries. He continues to surprise viewers today.

Themes drawn from the history of Japan, legends and tales, and phantoms, spirits and demons placed in the material world are the point of departure for his works. Among his other favourite subjects were animals, particularly cats, to which he attributed human qualities in his works. Among Kuniyoshi's wealth of ideas are also lovely, peaceful, atmospheric landscapes, welcoming viewers to travel through Japan in its various seasons.

The exhibit at the National Museum also represents an opportunity for a special encounter with a Japanese artist who observed European painting with interest, taking up the challenge of central perspective and making use of the chiaroscuro.

The exhibition is complemented by a striking catalogue and a rich educational programme with introductory workshops on the world of Japanese woodblock prints and lectures and meetings on the figure of Utagawa Kuniyoshi and collector Feliks Jasieński.

The presentation of the artist's works is accompanied by an animated film.

Curator: Beata Romanowicz
Iza Wałek
Maciej Leśniak

Utagawa Kuniyoshi. In the realm of legend and fantasyUtagawa Kuniyoshi. In the realm of legend and fantasy

Utagawa Kuniyoshi. In the realm of legend and fantasy

Utagawa Kuniyoshi. In the realm of legend and fantasy

  • Program regionalny
  • województwo maloposkie
  • Unia Europejska
The following Project is cofinanced by the European Union under the Małopolska Regional Operational Programme for the years 2007 – 2013