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Deer Bearing Symbols of the Kasuga Deities, Nanbokucho era, 14th century, bronze, wood with pigments, height 42.5in, Hosomi Museum, Kyoto, Important Cultural Property

 WASHINGTON, DC.- Artworks representing animals—real or imaginary, religious or secular—span the full breadth and splendor of Japanese artistic production. The National Gallery of Art, Washington, presents The Life of Animals in Japanese Art, the first exhibition devoted to the subject, covering 17 centuries (from the fifth century to the present day) and a wide variety of media—sculpture, painting, lacquerwork, ceramics, metalwork, textile, and the woodblock print. On view from June 2 through August 18, 2019, the exhibition features more than 300 works, drawn from 66 Japanese and 30 American public and private collections. The artists represented range from Sesson Shūkei, Itō Jakuchū, Soga Shōhaku, Katsushika Hokusai, Utagawa Kuniyoshi to Okamoto Tarō, Kusama Yayoi, Issey Miyake, Nara Yoshitomo, and Murakami Takashi. 

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Haniwa Waterfowl, Kofun period, c. 5th century, Tokyo National Museum. ©2004-2019 Tokyo National Museum.

Many of the nearly 180 works traveling from Japan are masterpieces that rarely—if ever—leave the country, including seven designated as an Important Cultural Property by the Japanese government. Three of the registered artworks are from the Tokyo National Museum: the six-foot-tall Monju Bosatsu Seated on a Lion, with Standing Attendants (1273) by the Buddhist sculptor Kōen; the intricately carved wood sculpture Aged Monkey (1893) by Takamura Kōun; and the Footed Bowl with Applied Crabs (19th century) by Miyagawa Kōzan I. Two Buddhist hanging scrolls are on loan from the Nara National Museum: Sword with Kurikara Dragon and Two Child Acolytes (13th century) and Fugen Enmei (13th century). Finally, the wood sculpture Fugen's Elephant (13th century) is on loan from a private collection, and a spectacular bronze, Deer Bearing Symbols of the Kasuga Deities (14th century), is on loan from the Hosomi Museum, Kyoto. 

Due to light-sensitivity, some 50 objects will be rotated halfway through the exhibition in early July. After July 13, repeat visitors will have the opportunity to see an additional selection of textiles, paintings, and armor. A robust schedule of programs will support the exhibition, ranging from a family audio tour and community weekend to a public symposium and extensive film series. 

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Unknown Artist, Haniwa Horse, 6th century, earthenware, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Gift of the David Bohnett Foundation, Lynda and Stewart Resnick, Camilla Chandler Frost, Victoria Jackson and William Guthy, and Laurie and Bill Benenson; image courtesy Museum Associates / LACMA.

This historic exhibition is co-organized by the National Gallery of Art, Washington, the Japan Foundation, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), with special cooperation from the Tokyo National Museum. The exhibition is curated by Robert T. Singer, curator and department head, Japanese art, LACMA, and Masatomo Kawai, director, Chiba City Museum of Art, in consultation with a team of esteemed historians of Japanese art. LACMA is presenting an abbreviated version of the exhibition, titled Every Living Thing: Animals in Japanese Art from September 22 through December 8, 2019. The Gallery's presentation of the exhibition, covering 18,000 square feet in the East Building Concourse, is organized into thematic sections that explore the various roles animals have played in the art of Japan. A fully illustrated catalog has been published in association with Princeton University Press. 

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Pair of Guardian Lions, Heian period, 10th century, Collection of Lynda and Stewart Resnick.

"This summer the Gallery's East Building will transform into an artful zoo, home to a plethora of animals made of wood, ink, or silk rather than fur, feathers, or scales. While zoologists and animal lovers will be particularly delighted by the exhibition, the objects will offer all our visitors a magnificent look at centuries of Japanese art history," said Kaywin Feldman, director, National Gallery of Art. "Bringing these treasures to Washington is the result of a historic partnership between the Gallery, the Japan Foundation, and LACMA. We are deeply honored to work with the Japan Foundation to share these works with American audiences and grateful for their invaluable assistance in organizing and coordinating the many Japanese loans. We are also deeply indebted to the many institutions who have agreed to part temporarily with their treasures, and particularly to the Tokyo National Museum, the largest Japanese lender, which has offered 26 works from its unparalleled collection." 

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Unknown Artist, Seated Horse-Headed Kannon, Heian period, 11th century, wood, height: 103.2 cm (40 5/8 in.); overall: 104 x 93 x 56 cm (40 15/16 x 36 5/8 x 22 1/16 in.), Yamakado Jichikai. © Shiga Prefectural Board of Education.

"The Japan Foundation creates global opportunities to foster friendship, trust, and mutual understanding through culture, language, and dialogue, to cultivate friendship and ties between Japan and the world. We believe this is a basis for building a truly peaceful and rich world," said Hiroyasu Ando, president, the Japan Foundation. "To achieve this mission, the Japan Foundation has organized numerous cultural events around the world and in the U.S. Among them, the upcoming exhibition of The Life of Animals in Japanese Art is one of the most ambitious and creative projects, and will display artworks of high quality for everyone's enjoyment. One may call these works of art—created through long, close interactions between animals and Japanese people over 1,600 years—a gift from humans to animals. I very much look forward to sharing this gift with our American friends." 

The exhibition is part of Japan 2019, an initiative to promote Japanese culture in the United States. 

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Unknown Artist, Pair of Sacred Monkeys, Heian period, 11th century, wood with traces of pigment; a: 41.9 x 22.9 x 24.1 cm (16 1/2 x 9 x 9 1/2 in.); b: 41.9 x 22.9 x 27.9 cm (16 1/2 x 9 x 11 in.), Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Gift of Jo Ann and Julian Ganz, Jr., Margaret and David Barry, the Louis Y. Kado Trust, Mrs. Charlene S. Kornblum and Dr. S. Sanford Kornblum, Murray Smith, and Grace Tsao. photo (C) Museum Associates / LACMA

Exhibition Organization and Curators 
The exhibition is coorganized by the National Gallery of Art, Washington, The Japan Foundation, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, with special cooperation from the Tokyo National Museum. 

The exhibition's curators Robert T. Singer, curator and department head, Japanese art, LACMA, and Masatomo Kawai, director, Chiba City Museum of Art, worked in consultation with a team of esteemed historians of Japanese art: Ryusuke Asami, supervisor, curatorial planning department, Tokyo National Museum; Masaaki Arakawa, professor, Gakushuin University; Hiroyuki Kano, former professor, Doshisha University; Mika Kuraya, chief curator, The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo; Yasuyuki Sasaki, curator, Suntory Museum of Art; Tomoko Matsuo, senior curator, Chiba City Museum of Art; Nobuhiko Maruyama, professor, Musashi University; and Hiroshi Ikeda, honorary researcher, Tokyo National Museum.

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Kōen, Monju Bosatsu Seated on a Lion, with Standing Attendants, Kamakura period, 1273, Tokyo National Museum©2004-2019 Tokyo National Museum.

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Attributed to Kan Motonobu, Dragon, Muromachi period, late 15th - early 16th century, one of a pair of hanging scrolls; ink and color on paper, image: 84.5 x 43.8 cm (33 1/4 x 17 1/4 in.), mount: 172.7 x 55.2 cm (68 x 21 3/4 in.), Philadelphia Museum of Art: 125th Anniversary Acquisition. Purchased with the Edith H. Bell Fund, the Edward and Althea Budd Fund, the Hollis Family Foundation Fund, the J. Stogdell Stokes Fund, and the East Asian Art Revolving Fund, 2000.

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Attributed to Kan Motonobu, Tiger, Muromachi period, late 15th - early 16th century, one of a pair of hanging scrolls; ink and color on paper, image: 84.5 x 43.8 cm (33 1/4 x 17 1/4 in.), mount: 172.7 x 55.2 cm (68 x 21 3/4 in.), Philadelphia Museum of Art: 125th Anniversary Acquisition. Purchased with the Edith H. Bell Fund, the Edward and Althea Budd Fund, the Hollis Family Foundation Fund, the J. Stogdell Stokes Fund, and the East Asian Art Revolving Fund, 2000. 

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Kano School, Goshawk Mews, Edo period, c.1675, ink and color on paper; mounted as a six-fold screen, Philadelphia Museum of Art: Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Douglas J. Cooper, 1978.

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Helmet Shaped like a Turbo Shell and Half Mask, Edo period, 17th century, Tokyo National Museum©2004-2019 Tokyo National Museum.

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Helmet in the shape of shachihoko, Edo period, 17th-18th century, iron, gold, silver, wood, paper, lacquer, silk, hemp and horse hair, height, helmet bowl 75/8 in, Tokyo National Museum. 

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Suit of Armor with Dark Blue and Red Lacing, Edo period, 18th century, Okazaki City Museum

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Unknown Artist, Shaka Passing into Nirvana, Edo period, 1727. Hanging scroll; ink and color on silk, image: 187.6 x 276.3 cm (73 7/8 x 108 3/4 in.), mount: 276.6 x 308.3 cm (108 7/8 x 121 3/8 in.), Seiraiji Nagoya City Museum

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Dancing Fox, netsuke, Edo period, 18th century, ivory with staining, 27/8 x 17/8 x 1in, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Raymond and Frances Bushell Collection. Photo © Museum Associates/LACMA. 

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Pair of Cranes and Morning Sun by Ito Jakuchu (1716-1800), Edo period, circa 1755-1756, hanging scroll, ink and colour on silk, image 47 ¾ x 157/8 in, Tekisuiken Memorial Foundation of Culture, Chiba Prefecture

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 Maruyama Okyo, Cranes, 1772, An'ei period (1772-1780). Pair of six-panel screens; ink, color and gold leaf on paper. Gift of Camilla Chandler Frost in honour of Robert T. Singerimage courtesy Museum Associates / LACMA.

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Narrative Picture Scroll about Fight between the Twelve Zodiac Animals and Racoons, Edo period, 1840, Tokyo National Museum. ©2004-2019 Tokyo National Museum.

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Unknown Artist, Uchikake with Phoenix and Birds, Meiji period, 19th century, silk crepe, paste-resist died, 68.5 x 52.75 in, Kyoto National Museum.

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Unknown Artist, Yogi with Crane and Turtle, Edo period, 19th century, silk crepe, paste-resist dyed; overall: 168.5 x 126 cm (66 5/16 x 49 5/8 in.), Matsuzakaya Collection

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Nara Yoshitomo, Harmless Kitty, Heisei period, 1994, National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo

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Yayoi Kusama. Sho-chan, 2013. © Yayoi Kusama, Courtesy of Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo/Shingapore/Shanghai