October 24, 2018

“Picturing Place in Japan” at PU Art Museum

“THE HANGING BRIDGE ON THE BOUNDARIES OF HIDA AND ETCHŪ PROVINCES”: This woodblock print by Katsushika Hokusai (1760–1849), ca. 1834, is featured in “Picturing Place in Japan,” an exhibition of nearly 40 paintings, prints, books, and photographs from the 16th through the 21st centuries on display at the Princeton University Art Museum through February 24.

The representation of place has been a dominant subject of Japanese painting throughout history. Sometimes these scenes evoke the topography of an actual location, but often the place depicted was imagined or based primarily on past images. Featuring a number of significant loans from the Gitter-Yelen Collection of Dr. Kurt A. Gitter and Alice Yelen Gitter, along with past Museum acquisitions from that collection and works drawn from the holdings of the Princeton University Art Museum, Princeton’s Marquand Library and East Asian Library, and the Gest Collection, “Picturing Place in Japan” takes viewers on a journey through space and time.

The exhibition includes nearly 40 paintings, prints, books and photographs, from the 16th through the 21st centuries, that collectively explore the varied meaning of place to Japanese artistic practice over these epochs. For Japanese artists, pictures of place were a means of exploring brushwork and form, as well as evoking poetry, paradise, distant China, sacred locations and the familiar or remote famous places of Japan.

Organized by Andrew M. Watsky, Professor of Japanese Art and Archaeology, and Caitlin Karyadi, doctoral candidate at Princeton University, in collaboration with Cary Liu, Nancy and Peter Lee Curator of Asian Art at the Art Museum, “Picturing Place in Japan” will be on view exclusively at the Princeton University Art Museum through February 24, 2019.

“’Picturing Place’ affords audiences the opportunity to engage with one of the most central traditions within the history of Japanese art,” said James Steward, Nancy A. Nasher–David J. Haemisegger, Class of 1976, director. “The exhibition showcases great works from the Gitter-Yelen Collection and demonstrates the growth of Princeton’s own holdings of Japanese art, while also acting as an interesting companion to our path-breaking fall exhibition ‘Nature’s Nation: American Art and Environment,’ which offers an expansive new vision of American art history through an environmental lens.”

“Picturing Place” is divided into three sections: “Imagined Places,” with paintings of imaginary sites, including dramatic landscapes that show off virtuoso brushwork and that were often based on pictorial precedents painted in styles associated with China; “Famous Places,” which includes paintings and woodblock prints of Japan’s renowned Mount Fuji as well as other celebrated locales; and “Sacred Places,” featuring images of temples and shrines. This section concludes with photographs of the Fukushima earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster site, a new geography of place in Japan affording special meanings and connotations.

The Princeton University Art Museum is located at the heart of the Princeton campus. Admission is free. Museum hours are Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Thursday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; and Sunday 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.