Japanese Treasures from the Brooklyn Museum


The Japan Society is hosting an exhibition titled, Point of Departure: Treasures from the Brooklyn Museum. The exhibition highlights an array of objects and art works from the museum’s vast Japanese Art collection never before seen in North America. It was the perfect excuse for Angy and I to take the day off and head into Manhattan.


Of particular interest, was a Japanese screen titled, “Cherry Blossom Viewing Picnic” from the Edo Period circa 1624. The four-fold screen depicts a procession of fifteen figures, whom appear to be “pleasure women” (yujo) accompanied by a few members of the samurai elite class. All the figures are fashionably dressed in colorful clothes with detailed designs. Notice how the patterns are rendered in a flat manner, similar to woodblock prints from that era. While most Japanese screens offer a bird’s eye view of a cityscape, this screen brings the viewer to a street level where the attire and accessories of common people become the emphasis. Almost like a fashion rendering!


 Below are some other highlights from various paintings, prints, screens, sculptures and decorative objects showcased in the exhibition.


 In the early 1900s, Brooklyn Museum curator Stewart Culin conducted a series of expeditions to Japan, which laid the groundwork for the museum’s collection of Asian Art. As we learned more about Culin, we became increasingly inspired. The following is a quote that epitomizes our shared philosophy…

Stewart Culin (left) and Dr. Neal Gordon Munro (right) at Bokenji temple in Yokohama, 1909


1. Cherry Blossom Viewing Picnic, Unknown Artist, 1624-22, Ink, color and gold leaf on paper
2. Triangle Plate, Kato Tsubusa, 1999, Porcelain with transparent light blue glaze
3. Drinking Ewer, Unknow Artist, 1680, Glazed porcelain
4. Vase, Kitamura Junko, 1991, Stoneware
5. Vase with Everted Floriate Rim, Kawase Shinobu, 1988, Stoneware with Guan type celadon glaze
6. Ewer (Mizutsugi), Kato Kiheiji, 1980, Glazed stoneware
7. Square Dish, Ogata Kenzan, Early 18th Century, Earthenware with iron oxide underglaze
8. Matsushima in Oshu Province, Utagawa Hiroshige 1855, Woodblock color print
9. Woman’s Robe, Unknown Ainu Artist, Late 19th Century, Elm bark fiber cloth with applique and embriodery
10. Small figure of Bodhisattva Sho Kamon, Unknown Artist, ca.1100, Wood, gesso and paint
11. Mode of Shampooing, Felice Beato 1839, Photograph
12. The Silly Jelly-Fish, Basil Hall Chamberlain and Kawabata Gyokusho, 1842
13. A View of Mount Fuji from a Boat at Ushibori, Katsushika Hokusai, 1760, Woodblock color print

Written by Stevenson Aung

Stevenson Aung

March 26, 2014

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