Art and Art Museums


Selected Art Museums with Extensive Web Resources

  1. The Freer and Sackler Galleries The over 1,500 highlights cover all major types of Japanese art - Buddhist sculptures and paintings, ceramics, narrative handscrolls, tea ceremony objects, woodblock prints, lacquerware, and modern Japanes art. Click on "Browse Japanese Art" to see the thumbnail images, then choose what interests you and learn more. They also have an excellent search program.

  2. The Kyoto National Museum Some artworks have very interesting curator's notes.

  3. Asian Art The museumís collection of Asian art represents 17 Asian cultures spanning nearly 5,000 years. They have an extensive collection of Japanese woodblock prints online. The digital images are crystal clear and enlargeable. Click on "Selected Works from the Collection."

  4. Tokyo National Museum Their collection can be viewed by type: sculpture, painting, calligraphy, and decorative arts or by region: Japan, China, Korea, India and Central Asia. They also have information about their current exhibits and what is now on display. You can enlarge the thumbnails to see great details.

  5. Tokugawa Art Museum houses the extensive collection of the Nagoya branch of the Tokugawa family. Here you can learn about the symbols of a warrior, the tea room of a daimyo, the formal rooms of a daimyo residence, daimyo patronage of the No drama and the earliest illustrated Tale of Genji.

Web Exhibits and Special Features

  1. Seasonal Imagery in Japanese Art From ancient times to the present, the Japanese people have celebrated the beauty of the seasons. Painters and artisans created works of visual beauty in response to seasonal themes and poetic inspiration - the cherry blossoms in spring and the harvest moon in the fall are just two examples. This is from the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Timeline of Art History.

  2. Japanese Art History II begins with the Momoyama Period (1573 - 1603) and finishes with the current Heisei Period.

  3. E-Yakimono II is on online bookstore concentrating on Japanese ceramics (the "e" is for "electronic," not the Japanese for "picture"). There is a lot of general information about ceramics, the best traditional potters in Japan today, and a guide to glazes, kilns, and types of pottery, ie. Bizen, Kyo-yaki, and Karatsu. Each topic has links to many other sites on the subject. Excellent site!

  4. An Introduction to Japanese Prints and the Printing Process I created this PowerPoint presentation to give you a very brief history of Japanese print making and a demonstration of the building of a nishki-e, multi-color print.

  5. Ukioye: Japanese Woodblock Prints This is a wonderful web gallery created by the U. S. Library of Congress. There is a wide range of prints and excellent images to study.

  6. Kunisada and Kabuki This is a great site where you can learn more about the traditions of the Kabuki theater and see the colorful woodblock prints of one of it's most famous artists. There's an introduction to Kunisada's art, a section where you can see what a Kabuki theater looked like and a virtual gallery of all the prints.

  7. Art of the Edo Period 1603-1854 It was not the royal court or samurai elite who inspired artists of this period. The artisans and merchants of Kyoto and Tokyo refined traditional artforms and developed new ones. This site links to three others.

  8. Japonisme Japanese woodblock prints greatly affected Impressionist and Post-Impressionist artists. The poster artist Toulouse-Lautrec adapted the exaggerated colors, contours and facial expressions of Kabuki prints in his eye-catching posters.

  9. The World of Edo is a short essay on the great metropolis of Edo (now Tokyo) from 1615 - 1868. There are quick references to the bridges of the city, the Tokaido and Mt. Fuji and Bijinga - woodblock prints of beautiful women.

  10. One Hundred Famous Views of Edo by the great landscape artist Ando Hiroshige are online courtesy of a special exhibit by the Brooklyn Museum of Art. You can view the entire 116 prints or explore them by the season. The images are clear and colorful as the prints were an original deluxe edition.

  11. The Fifty-three Stations of the Tokaido click here to view all prints in the great woodblock print series by Ando Hiroshige. I created this introduction to the life, legends, entertainment and passions of the common people in 1830s Japan from the research for my book.

  12. Here you can learn about the novel that started the tattoo craze in Edo Heroes of the Suikoden. The illustrations in the book were by Hokusai and they inspired many of the designs on the painted hanten - firemen's special coats.

  13. Japanese Tattoo Art starts with the early history of tattoo art in Japan (5th century AD) and follows it to the present day.

  14. The Japanese Tattoo is another history of Japanese tattoos and it includes photographs of modern tattoos

  15. The Forty-Seven Ronin was a very popular story for woodblock prints and Kabuki theater. The 47 samurai became ronin (masterless samurai) when their master was killed. The story tells their valiant efforts to revenge their master's death.

  16. The Eight Dog Warriors is a quick overview of a famous Kabuki play with an exciting woodblock illustration.

  17. A Video Guide to Woodblock Printing was created by Dartmouth College and Professor Allen Hockley. You can study the carving process as well as the printing process for building a multi-block print.

  18. Ujiyo-e Techniques was created by Wesleyan University professor Keiji Shinohara. In the videos Professor Shinohara demonstrates traditional and contemporary carving and printing techniques. There's a wonderful gallery of prints with a great zoom feature. The gallery includes prints from the 18th and 19th centuries as well as Professor Shinohara's works. If you don't have Flash Player, you can download it from this site.

  19. Woodblock Printing Terms and Definitions is a wonderful site from It's a great reference for anyone interested in Kabuki prints and those from the Kansai region - Osaka, Kyoto and Ise.

  20. Hokusai: Mad About Painting is a wonderful overview of the humorous and touching work of the seventy year career of this great artist. Click on the symbol - Hokusai: Mad About Painting - at the top right of the page for the full web exhibit.

  21. The Potter's Brush is a web exhibit organized by the Freer & Sackler Galleries. It gives one example of each of six styles that developed from Ogata Kenzan's pioneering work.

  22. Photographs of Kimbei Kusakabe from the New York Public Library Digital Gallery shows 100 prints from an 1888-1890 album with fascinating landscapes and portraits.

  23. Viewing Japanese Prints is a fantastic web site written by John Fiorillo from UC, Berkely. There are overviews on ukiyo-e from Edo and Osaka, as well as information about shin hanga and sosaku hanga prints. At the end of each essay are links to discussions of individual prints and their artists. This is a goldmine for anyone who wants to delve deeper into the meaning of subjects and symbols. Here's just a sampling:

    • Mitate ("look and compare pictures") were among the most common and important genres in ukiyo-e printmaking. The 'mitate' method used by ukiyo-e artists borrowed from poetic techniques, resulting in pictorial designs that offered imaginative, simultaneous, and multiple layers of meaning that coexisted rather than blended.
    • Poetry in Ukiyo-e helps you understand where poetry was used and how, especially in the lavishly printed suriomono prints.
    • Signatures and Seals is a concise overview with clear explanations and examples.
    • Shin Hanga advocated the traditional system of woodblock production - designer, carver, printer and published - but updated with more modern images. The shin hanga movement flourished from around 1915 to 1942, though it resumed briefly from 1946 through the 1950s.
    • Sosaku Hanga artists saw printmaking as an elemental and highly personal creative act, not one to be shared with other artisans. They selected their paper, prepared their own blocks (not always made of wood), carved their designs, mixed the pigments, printed the images, and marketed the prints. Their work from 1920s through the late 1950s was a blend of traditional Japanese aesthetics strongly influenced by international trends in art, especially European methods of painting and printmaking.
  24. A Virtual Tour of Himeji Castle is a fun way to get lots of different views of this most beautiful castle nicknamed "The White Heron." Unfortunately, the map function was not working Sept. 2006.

  25. Japan: Memoirs of a Secret Empire is the web site created to compliment the PBS documentary. It's a quick introduction to the Edo Period (1615 - 1868) with short features on people, musical instruments and the Tokaido.

  26. Mingei Thanks to the e-yakimomo web site there is an introductory essay on the minge movement and links to other essays and photos about major potters in the movement and museums featuring the National Living Treasures and their work.


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