The most ephemeral of all Japanese prints, fans with printed images of popular kabuki actors, beauties, and landscapes were ubiquitous in Japan during the Edo period (1615–1868). Most were well used, which is why so few remain. However, those that were not destroyed by being mounted as fans on bamboo sticks have been preserved as part of the Art Institute’s collection. Highlighted in this exhibition are fans' unique format, as well some of their less obvious uses—catching insects and as a fashionable way to feature calligraphy.
Fans were produced in specialized shops. While the round fans (uchiwa) duplicated Chinese prototypes, the folding fan (ôgi), was invented in Japan in the seventh century. All of these fans, however, were refined by the skill of an artist and transformed into charming, lightweight accoutrements that brought relief from the heat, comfort to the soul, and delight to the eye.
Fans printed with images of favorite kabuki actors were one of the earliest and most favored prints for theater lovers to own. With the popularization of the landscape print, Utagawa Hiroshige (1797–1858) produced more printed images for fans than any other artist, even though these likely number less than 10 percent (about 350 designs) of his entire output. Because these prints were trimmed and pasted to either folding or round fans, few have survived, and therefore it is difficult to understand the total number that may have existed.
There will be a rotation of some of the works at the midpoint of the exhibition.
Utagawa Kunisada. The Actor Iwai Kumesaburô II as the Courtesan Takao, c. 1827. Restricted gift of Roberta and H. George Mann.
15 hours 20 min ago The Art Institute of Chicago NOW OPEN—Humanism + Dynamite = The Soviet Photomontages of Aleksandr Zhitomirsky
The first exhibition in the post-Soviet world devoted to leading political artist Aleksandr Zhitomirsky offers a captivating portrayal of a satirist and loyal citizen who inventively furthered his country’s official causes across a tumultuous half-century.
17 hours 13 min ago The Art Institute of Chicago CLOSING SOON—Icelandic artist/musician Ragnar Kjartansson’s intensely durational works often manifest a rare synthesis of pathos and humor.
A Lot of Sorrow is both a music video and extended concert film, in which The National performs its ballad “Sorrow” on repeat for six hours. See the song take on new layers of meaning as the hours pass and fatigue sets in.
Closing October 16—http://bit.ly/2du3GXh
3 days 12 hours ago The Art Institute of Chicago Congratulations to the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture on their grand opening this weekend. The building, designed by architect David Adjaye, is a truly historic addition to the National Mall in Washington D.C. #APeoplesJourney #MakingHistory