Monday, August 27, 2012

Lessons of the Cherry Blossom: Japanese Woodblock Prints I at the Norton Simon

I went to the Norton Simon Art Museum in Pasadena, CA a while ago and they had an exhibit of some Japanese woodblock ukiyo-e prints.  It's a small exhibit, but very good.  It will run until September 3rd.  It is in celebration of the 100th anniversary gift of 3,000 cherry trees by Tokyo, Japan to Washington, D.C..  The cherry blossom (sakura) has been an important symbol in Japan, it blooms for a week, a brief and transitory beauty.

This is one of the walls of the exhibit.  I will try to post different walls on different weeks.  This wall is dedicated to the seasons.  Artists would show the seasons by showing trees, herbs, and flowers that would be prevalent at different times of years.  For example, cherry blossoms were a symbol for spring and red maple leaves were a predicator of autumn.

Utagawa Hiroshige I "Koganei, Musashi Province" from the Thirty-six Views of Fuji series

In "Koganei" while the cherry blossom is not the main subject, it is a strong component of the composition.  The summit of Mount Fuji is framed through a blooming ancient cherry tree.

Utagawa Hiroshige I "Inside Kameido Tenjin Shrine" from the One Hundred Famous Views of Edo series 

The "Kameido Tenjin Shrine" piece shows wisteria blooming near a drum bridge at the Tenjin Shrine.  Wisteria blooms at the start of summer in Japan.  The bridge shape and colors had an allure for a number of European Impressionist artists amongst whom was Claude Monet who had a similar bridge built at his home in Giverny.

Utagawa Hiroshige I "Yuhigaoka Hill at Meguro, Edo" from the Thirty-six Views of Fuji series

In "Yuhigaoka Hill" the autumnal maple leaves are in full view, a mix of red and brown leaves indicate late autumn as they fall into the stream.  In Japan, viewing maple leaves in the fall is akin to viewing cherry blossoms in the spring. 

Kawase Hasui "Zōjō Temple, Shiba"

"Zōjō Temple" has a tree laden with snow as a symbol of winter.  It was not considered creative enough by the artist's peers, but it was quite a success with the public.  I think it is quite beautiful.

This concludes the wall dedicated to the seasons in the exhibit.  Sorry about my reflections in the photos, they were under glass!

I am linking this post with Inspire Me Monday:

Additionally, I have been working on my painting to donate.  Here is a work in progress view of my Wonder Woman piece:


Miss Val's Creations said...

These paintings are gorgeous. Japanese art has always been a favorite of mine. Wonder Woman is looking beautiful!!! I look forward to seeing her finished.

Magic Love Crow said...

Very beautiful and very dramatic! The painting you are donating is turning out excellent!

Lisa Isabella Russo said...

Thanks Miss Val and Stacy, I love Japanese art too. Thank you both also on my Wonder Woman painting, I am plugging along on it :)...