The Exhibition "100 Ancient Japanese Voodcuts" took place in Vilnius Picture Gallery (19 May, 2000 - 15 September, 2000)

Woodblock prints have been known in Japan as early as the 9th century - their popularizers were Buddhist monks who exploited xylography technique for the multiplication of sutras and other illustrated religious texts. However, it matured as an art in its own right only in the 17th century. It is the so-called Ukiyo-e School. The addressee of the Ukiyo-e prints was the third estate, which occupied the lowest rank in the official hierarchy of the country, and the object of depiction - the world of entertainment, the Kabuki Theatre artists, the quarters of courtesans, geishas, and urban scenes. The Ukiyo-e prints like all the Japanese art abounded in calligraphy and poetry texts.

From the middle of the 19th century Ukiyo-e prints witness their great impact on the West European schools of art and individual artists such as Manet, Monet, Degas, Toulouse-Lautrec, van Gogh, numerous Secession and “Mir iskusstva” painters. In the late 19th century and the early 20th century the plant motifs of irises, chrysanthemums, the scenes of waves, waterfalls, cliffs, a silhouette-based idiom, the ornamental-plane surface backgrounds of compositions and the décor forms of fans and screens reached European art and architecture from Japanese prints. With the popularization of Japanese prints and their motifs in neighbouring countries, they also reached Lithuania and its collectors of the period through St Petersburg, Berlin, Warsaw, and made an impact on M. K. Ciurlionis’ works.

Japanese art was known and aroused interest in Lithuania in the early 20th century. The idea of Embassy of Japan in Lithuania and the Lithuanian Art Museum to arrange an exhibition of prints was supported by the Siauliai “Ausra” Museum, the Vilnius Academy of Arts, the Vilnius University Library, the Kretinga Franciscan Monastery of the Annunciation to the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Balys Sruoga Memorial Museum and their collections were offered to put on display. The works which needed specialists’ help have been restored at the Graphic Art Department of the Pranas Gudynas Restoration Centre.

Information of the LAM
Photos by A. Luksenas

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