The Tale of Genji, chapter 2: Prince Genji’s visit to Utsusemi (Freer Gallery of Art)
Throughout the long history of Japan, Japanese visual arts adopted and adapted style elements of foreign cultures—Chinese, Korean, European—refining techniques, materials, and viewing practices to suit their own particular societal needs, ideas, and cultural practices.
Art historian Yui Suzuki examines timeless works by skilled Japanese artisans in their historical, religious, and political contexts. She highlights major traditional and innovative artistic traditions, including painting, sculpture, gardens, and woodblock prints, from the ninth century to the end of the 19th century.
April 5 Japanese Buddhist Sculpture
Buddhism was first introduced to Japan in the mid-sixth century and the religion had a profound impact on all aspects of Japanese culture and society. Buddhist statues of extraordinary artistic achievement were created and filled the interior spaces of resplendent Buddhist temples. Examine some of the representative sculptural works from the ninth to 14th centuries, including the Buddha Amida from Byodoin Temple in Kyoto.
April 12 The Yamato-e Painting Tradition
Japanese painting is complex and diverse, yet there are several pervasive characteristics that define this rich visual art form. One major genre of Japanese painting that developed in Japan’s Heian period (794–1185) is known as yamato-e—literally Japanese painting—coined as such in response to imported Chinese painting. Suzuki begins with an introduction to the basic painting formats used in yamato-e (hanging scrolls, folding screens, handscrolls), viewing practices, materials, and techniques. Then, she focuses on popular themes and formal conventions that characterize this painting genre through a number of iconic examples.
April 19 From Monochrome to Color: Ink Painting and Japanese Gardens
The aesthetics and principles found in the Japanese sculptural and painting traditions permeate many aspects of Japanese art forms, including gardens. Learn how these basic principles were applied to Japanese garden design through the lush, pleasure gardens of the Heian aristocracy to the austere rock gardens in Kyoto known as kare-san-sui (dry-mountain-water).
April 26 Japan’s Ukiyo-e Prints
Bold designs, rich colors, and exotic imagery were just some of the features that first drew people from the Western world to embrace the Japanese tradition of secular woodblock prints. Known as ukiyo-e, or images of the “floating world,” these 18th- and 19th-century scenes brought beautiful people, exciting places, and spectacular entertainments to the residents of Japan’s fast-growing population centers. Suzuki discusses the origins and history of the ukiyo-e tradition and its various print techniques.
World Art History Certificate core course: Earn 1 credit*
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