Published: March 1, 2018
NEW YORK CITY – Continuing the celebration of Japan Society’s 110th anniversary, Japan Society Gallery is presenting the exhibition “A Giant Leap: The Transformation of Hasegawa Tohaku,” commemorating the life and artistic legacy of Hasegawa Tohaku (1539-1610), one of Japan’s most beloved painters, artistic innovators and founder of the Sixteenth Century Hasegawa school of painting. For the first time in a New York City venue, visitors will have an opportunity to experience more than ten of Tohaku’s most celebrated works in a single space, including four important cultural properties from Japanese collections.
Owing to their rarity and in order to preserve their remarkable condition, the screens and scroll paintings will be displayed in two rotations, March 9-April 8, and April 12-May 6.
“A Giant Leap” will convey the dramatic transformation of a painter from the provinces into one of Japan’s most important and beloved artists. The exhibition will take as its point of departure a little known but extremely important screen by Tohaku, currently in a private US collection, that depicts birds, trees and striated rocks emerging from breaks in expansive gilt clouds.
Current scholarly research has identified this masterpiece with the pivotal moment in the artist’s career, marked by a radical change in his painting style and echoed by a transformation in his nomenclature from “Nobuharu” to “Tohaku.”
The exhibition will not only call attention to Tohaku’s achievements by focusing on his artistic transformation, but will also raise critical questions about his ambition as a contemporary artist in early modern Japanese society from a historical perspective. Within a centuries-old tradition of artistic training, how was Nobuharu/Tohaku able to refashion his style so dramatically over the course of his career? By viewing the exhibited masterworks from this vantage point, the show will offer a platform for considering Japan’s transition into the early modern period, as expressed in the visual arts.
The exhibition is conceived and supervised by Dr Miyeko Murase (professor emerita, art history and archaeology department, Columbia University and former special consultant for Japanese art, Asia department, Metropolitan Museum of Art) with Dr Masatomo Kawai (professor emeritus, Keio University and director, Chiba City Museum of Art) in consultation with Yukie Kamiya, director of Japan Society Gallery.
Japan Society is at 333 East 47th Street, between First and Second Avenues. For additional information, 212-715-1205 or www.japansociety.org.
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