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Designing Nature: The Rinpa Aesthetic in Japanese Art
Carpenter, John T. (2012)
This title is in print.

Among the masterworks of Japanese screen painting in the Metropolitan Museum's collection are Ogata Kōrin's Irises at Yatsuhashi and Suzuki Kiitsu's Morning Glories, both disarmingly simple in composition and yet captivating in their graphic potency. In the spring of 2012, Irises at Yatsuhashi was exhibited with great fanfare at the Nezu Museum, Tokyo, alongside another set of screen paintings of irises by Kōrin, now in the Nezu Museum's collection, that is one of Japan's officially designated National Treasures. The homecoming of Irises at Yatsuhashi to New York provided the ideal opportunity to highlight this treasured painting in the context of related works by Kōrin and by other artists associated with the "Rinpa" aesthetic, a modern designation for a distinctive style of Japanese pictorial art that arose in the early seventeenth century and has continued into modern times.

One of the special characteristics of the present exhibition and its accompanying catalogue is the juxtaposition of iconic works from across the centuries. Paintings from the Edo period (1615–1868), for example, are displayed alongside the sumptuously colored woodblock-printed books by early twentieth-century painter and illustrator Kamisaka Sekka, famed for his modern renditions of the Rinpa repertoire. Contemporary ceramic, lacquer, and bamboo artists are also represented in the galleries, demonstrating how encounters with the arts of the present continue to provide our visitors an engaging way to access the arts of the past.

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