Thursday, February 19, 2015

AAM Media Preview: Seduction

Wednesday morning the Asian Art Museum held a media preview for Seduction, a show of Japanese art & objects related to the courtesans of the sybaritic "floating world" of the Edo period. The works come from the collection of John C. Weber, who was present & made opening remarks in which he told us how he began his collecting career by amassing over 500 Japanese textiles.

The 1st gallery features a 58-foot scroll, unrolled in its entirety. It shows, in decorative detail, where & how to party with the courtesans of the Yoshiwara, a walled district containing licensed brothels. It was perhaps a cross between Las Vegas & Amsterdam's red light district. The scroll invites lingering examination, & excellent text labels annotate each of its vignettes.

The exhibit contains prints, painted scrolls, robes & porcelain, designed to create an effect of sumptuousness & sophistication. This is a kimono-shaped bed cover.

This robe with embroidered calligraphy is especially fine.

Curator Laura Allen led the gallery tour & observed that the strongly sensuous appeal of the art was meant to market the women to wealthy clients.

I was delighted to see the 19th century print maker Yoshitoshi represented with one of his characteristically grotesque images of a demon.

Seduction is accompanied by a concurrent show of Japanese woodblock prints from the collection of Edwin Grabhorn. 88 prints are being displayed in 2 phases in a closely packed gallery.

These images promoted trends & fashions to a mass market. Art collector Sebastian Izzard was on hand & gave informative explanations of their social & commercial context.

Every print is in impressively crisp condition. Though the colors of most are faded, this depiction of a Sunrise of New Year's Morning by Eishosai Choki has miraculously preserved, popping colors.

§ Seduction: Japan's Floating World
Feb 20 - May 10, 2015

Asian Art Museum

§ The Printer's Eye: Ukiyo-e from the Grabhorn Collection
Feb 20 - May 10, 2015

Asian Art Museum

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