Both in the East and in the West, religious images and texts were made readily accessible and understandable to wider audiences through the medium of print. In East Asia, religious instruction grew hand in hand with printing from the eighth century on; illustrated Buddhist sutra texts still survive from these early days. In Europe, it was not until the 1450s that the first book was printed in metal movable type, but notably that book was the Gutenberg Bible. This exhibition, a first-of-its-kind collaboration between the departments of Prints and Drawings and Asian Art, brings together works from both collections to explore the rich printed traditions that were fostered by devotional practices.
Beyond the Gutenberg Bible, printing revolutionized Western religious customs, with broadsides and pamphlets flourishing by the thousands. Even illiterate audiences understood didactic images, and woodblocks were printed cheaply alongside reusable metal type. Collectible prints of haloed patron saints could be acquired at pilgrimage sites and devoutly touched to the saint’s remains, or assembled into wall decorations structured like altarpieces. Prints even allowed the armchair reader a sense of being physically present in far-off places mentioned in the Bible as exemplified in the exhibition by a panoramic woodcut of Jerusalem that served as the culminating illustration of a 1486 book about pilgrimage to the Holy Land.
In Japan, prints were used in a parallel fashion to spread Buddhist teachings. Among the works featured in the exhibition are one of a million small eighth-century wood pagodas containing a printed prayer for peace, a set of large-scale woodblock-printed and hand-painted images of deities for use in temple ceremonies, and examples of charms acquired by pilgrims at various temple sites. The latter exemplifies how Christianity and Buddhism brought about similar social practices, despite their many differences in thought.
Fittingly this coming-together of Eastern and Western prints is presented in the Clarence Buckingham Gallery for Japanese Prints. One of the museum’s earliest and most important donors, Buckingham collected both Old Master and Japanese prints, and examples of each are on display in this unique presentation.
1 day 13 hours ago The Art Institute of Chicago Mary Cassatt was the only American artist to exhibit with the original Impressionist group. This sensitive portrayal of a mother and child reflects the most advanced 19th-century ideas about raising children. Scientists and physicians of the day encouraged mothers (instead of wet nurses and nannies) to care for their children and to include regular bathing in their hygiene practices to prevent disease. #5WomenArtists
See three paintings by Mary Cassatt now on view: http://bit.ly/2nl9Z68
Image: [Now on view in Gallery 273] Mary Cassatt. The Child's Bath, 1893. Robert A. Waller Fund.
1 day 17 hours ago The Art Institute of Chicago APRIL 21—Join us for After Dark in the Modern Wing!
Check out the new exhibition Go with special tours and late-night access. And catch live performances by Monakr and Mano.
Must be 21+. Hosted by The Evening Associates of the Art Institute of Chicago.