Timely and Timeless

Japan's Modern Transformation in Woodblock Prints

Timely and Timeless showcases woodblock prints from 1833 to 1959, the most transformative era in Japanese history, to examine the versatility of the woodblock print medium and interrogate the "timeless" Japan with which it is so often associated. The earliest prints in the exhibition date to the Edo period (1603-1868), which depict idealized landscapes and the world of entertainment brought about by urbanization and commercialization. Technological innovations, periodic censorship, and Western influences inspired increasingly experimental designs. Despite facing challenges from photography, lithography, and Western-style painting, the woodblock print medium remained competitive through the industrial revolution in the Meiji period, nostalgia and nationalism of the 20’s and 30’s, and the aftermath of a lost world war. 

This exhibition is curated by senior art history majors Fiona Clarke, Isabel Figueroa, Mary Emma Heald, Chelsea Kramer, Lilly Middleton, Cece Witherspoon and Adrian Zhang, under the direction of Ren Wei.