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 hour 29 min ago The Art Institute of Chicago Just like the museum's collection comes from artists around the world, so does the Museum Shop’s assortment of products. We source exclusive products from artisans that are inspired by the cultures, mediums, and techniques represented in our museum collection. View our assortment of unique items from India.
10 hours 38 min ago The Art Institute of Chicago NOW ON VIEW—Provoke: Photography in Japan between Protest and Performance, 1960–1975
Provoke was the English-language title for a Japanese photo magazine of the late 1960s; the name also designates the group of photographers and writers who put that formative publication together. Their influence has grown so great that the “Provoke era” is now international shorthand for sixties counterculture in Japan. This generational uprising swelled from the massive unrest, and sheer cultural disorientation, that accompanied the country’s transformation from ruined empire to superpower after World War II.
This exhibition places the achievements of Provoke alongside those of protesters and protest collectives, who made riveting photobooks, films, and photographs throughout the same era, as well as artists and art collectives keenly interested in live performance and its relation to the mechanical image.
14 hours 10 min ago The Art Institute of Chicago NEW ACQUISITION—In the early decades of the sixteenth century, Antwerp was a great center of commerce, finance, and luxury trade. The Flemish city attracted innovative painters like Quentin Massys, Jan Gossart, and Joos van Cleve working in a style that combined northern traditions with Italianate forms. Numerous other painters, whose work is only known under names of convenience, like the Master of the Lille Adoration, swelled the ranks of the Antwerp guild.
Saint Jerome in Penitence (by the Master of the Lille Adoration) is an ideal addition to our collection and can be seen alongside other exemplary paintings from Renaissance Antwerp—on view in Gallery 207.