Published: February 7, 2017
CINCINNATI, OHIO – The Cincinnati Art Museum will present an in-depth look at the historical and cultural influence of Japan’s Samurai in the exhibition “Dressed to Kill: Japanese Arms and Armor,” on view February 11-May 7. More than 130 warrior-related objects from the Sixteenth-Nineteenth Centuries will be on display from the museum’s collections and first-time loans from the holdings of collector Gary Grose.
Samurai began as skillful provincial warriors before rising to power as members of the powerful military caste in feudal Japan. Their traditional moral principles, known as bushido or “the way of the warrior,” stressed loyalty, mastery of martial arts and honor until the death.
“Dressed to Kill” aims to reveal the true story and deepen the understanding of the warrior-nobles of Japan. Contrasted with popular depictions, the context and understanding of Samurai is integral to Japanese art history.
This exhibition features 11 full suits of armor, including one commissioned for a youth between ages 11 and 13; weapons, banners, costumes, prints and paintings, many on view for the first time. Celebrating Japanese art and fine craftsmanship, the exhibition explores the powerful impact of Samurai ideals, principles and power that influenced the historical and cultural development of Japan.
Cincinnati Art Museum Curator of Asian Art Dr Hou-Mei Sung organized this rare look into Samurai. “‘Dressed to Kill’ is an eye-opening exhibition intended to separate Samurai fact from fiction,” says Sung. “We hope to contribute a unique and deeply impactful historical depiction of the role Samurai warriors played in Japanese culture.”
The Cincinnati Art Museum houses one of the oldest and most extensive Japanese art collections among all US museums.
Running concurrently, “Transcending Reality: The Woodcuts of Kosaka Gajin” celebrates the museum’s Howard and Caroline Porter Collection, the largest repository of the woodcuts of Kosaka Gajin outside the family in Tokyo, Japan.
“Transcending Reality” captures the beauty of Japan’s landscape and architectural monuments in a manner that is modern in its individualized expression as well as related stylistically to European and American abstract painting. The exhibition will be shown next to “Dressed to Kill” in Western & Southern Gallery 233.
Visitors can also take a peek behind the mask in the 3rd annual Cincinnati Asian Art Society Lecture, “Samurai Culture: Multiple Perspectives” on Sunday, April 2, at 2 pm, inspired by “Dressed to Kill.” The program will feature Dr Hou-Mei Sung, collector Gary Grose, conservator Betsy Allaire, and scholar Nancy McGowan; free but reservations required.
The Cincinnati Art Museum is at 953 Eden Park Drive.
For additional information, www.cincinnatiartmuseum.org, 513-721-ARTS or 877-472-4226.
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