New York City, NY
This will be the first major loan exhibition in North America to focus on the artistic tradition inspired by Japan's most celebrated work of literature, The Tale of Genji. Written by Murasaki Shikibu, a lady-in-waiting in the early eleventh-century imperial court, and often referred to as the world's first psychological novel, the tale recounts the amorous escapades of the "Shining Prince" Genji and introduces some of the most iconic female characters in the history of Japanese literature.
Covering the period from the eleventh century to the present, the exhibition features more than 120 works, including paintings, calligraphy, silk robes, lacquer wedding set items, a palanquin for the shogun's bride, and popular art such as ukiyo-e prints and modern manga.
Highlights include two National Treasures and several works recognized as Important Cultural Properties. For the first time ever outside Japan, rare works will be on view from Ishiyamadera Temple—where, according to legend, Shikibu started writing the tale.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website
Whether or not you go, the handsomely-designed and -illustrated exhibition catlaog, The Tale of Genji: A Japanese Classic Illuminated, explores the outstanding art associated with Genji through in-depth essays and discussions of nearly 120 works. The Tale of Genji has influenced all forms of Japanese artistic expression, from intimately scaled albums and fans to boldly designed hanging scrolls and screen paintings by the most esteemed artists and calligraphers of every school and era. Scenes from the tale adorn decorative objects used in everyday life, including robes, lacquer boxes, containers for grooming tools and writing implements, incense burners, and even palanquins for transporting young brides to their new homes. The authors, both art historians and Genji scholars, discuss the tale’s transmission and reception over the centuries; illuminate its place within the history of Japanese literature and calligraphy; highlight its key episodes and characters; and explore its wide-ranging influence on Japanese culture, design, and aesthetics into the modern era.
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