Monday, February 26, 2007

Edo period Eccentric painters

On Sunday I went to the Kyushu National Museum to check a exhibition on Edo period painters. The featured paintings were those of Ito Jakuchu, a member of the 'Eccentric' painters of the late 18th-century. Based in Kyoto, these painters' oeuvre is an individualistic method of expression and focus on subjects from nature–flowers, birds, fish and other animals.

I can't find a picture of my favorite painting of the exhibition (Katsu Jagyoku’s “Rabbits with Pines and Crows with Plum Tree in Snow), but this one is just as remarkable. By Nagasawa Rosetsu, this "Bull" is 6-panel black and white that was displayed alongside an "Elephant." The bull and elephant face each other and are nearly identical in size.

The works were all owned by the Price Collection, a group that has been credited with reviving a period of Japanese art that was all but forgotten by collectors after WWII. Today, Joe Price is a famous collector of Asian art, yet he stumbled into the field by chance. Several decades ago, while at a pawn shop with his father's friend, Frank Lloyd Wright, Price was drawn to a painting of grapes on a vine. He ended up purchasing the painting–a work of Ito Jakuchu–and more like them, until he had a sizable collection.

Tokyo Art Beat story on Jakuchu

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