Kunisada (signed Utagawa Toyokuni II), Two Onnagata (actors) and a Puppet, c. 17th c., woodblock print, 14 ¼ x 9 ½", gift of Nancy M. Berman & Alan Bloch.
COLLEGEVILLE, PA.- Impressions of an Age: Ukiyo-e Prints from the Berman Collection, opens in the Philip and Muriel Berman Museum of Art at Ursinus College in the Upper Gallery. The exhibit runs until April 17. The Opening Reception and Gallery Talk by the curators will be Sunday January 25 from 2 to 4 p.m. Matthew Mizenko, associate professor of Japanese and East Asian Studies at Ursinus, and Frank L. Chance, associate director, Center of East Asian Studies, University of Pennsylvania, are the curators of this vibrant exhibit which evokes an important era in the history of Japan.
The woodblock print (ukiyo-e) was a prominent art form during Japan's Edo Period (1603-1868), which brought peace, stability and prosperity to the country. The growth of an educated and wealthy merchant class set the context for the development of a popular, mass-produced art form that reflected the lives, leisure, aesthetics, fantasies, fads, and aspirations of this urbanized populace. The brilliantly colored ukiyo-e prints include many depicting scenes from the Kabuki theater, including stylized dramas, images of popular actors in scenes they made famous, and stories of tragedy, romance and revenge from both China and Japan. Some prints recorded and publicized the activities of the licensed pleasure quarters, which served as a relief from the moral injunctions of the government. The exhibition also includes images of travel and famous sights. Taken together, the prints present a picture of the "floating world" (ukiyo) of lightness, play, beauty and dreams. Among the artists represented are Moronobu, Masanobu, Hiroshige, Hokusai, Kunisada and Kuniyoshi.
The 27 images in this exhibition are drawn from a collection of 43 prints donated to the museum's permanent collection by Nancy M. Berman & Alan Bloch. These prints complement the substantial holdings of the Berman Museum in 20th-century Japanese prints to create a comprehensive collection of Japanese graphic art that serves as a valuable resource for both the community and Ursinus College. Concurrently with the exhibition, Professor Mizenko will be offering a course in Japanese visual culture in which students will study the museum's prints as artistic, cultural and social artifacts.
Also opening January 20 is the exhibit Work(s) in Progress, during which visitors can view the curatorial process in action, as portions of the permanent collection come out of the vaults and into the open, in preparation for expansion of the Museum building. That exhibit runs until April 12.
The Philip and Muriel Berman Museum of Art at Ursinus, known for its diverse collection and innovative educational programming, is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday through Friday; noon to 4:30 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, and closed Mondays and college holidays. The Museum is accessible to the physically disabled and admission is free. The museum is accredited by the American Association of Museums. Exhibitions and programs are funded in part by a grant from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. For group tour information, call 610-409-3500.