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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

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By Emma KrasovIn a sweeping presentation of an endlessly intriguing art form, the FineArts Museums of San Francisco juxtapose Japanese woodcut prints and Impressionist and Post-Impressionist graphic work in Japanesque: The Japanese Print in the Era of Impressionism at the Legion of Honor. Directed by Karin Breuer, curator-in-charge of the Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts, the show accentuates the evolution, essence, and influence of the genre from black-and-white to intricately hand-colored woodcuts, and from early masters to towering figures of international art history. The show opens with comparisons between Japanese and Western depictions of bridges, street views, and mundane scenes, and proceeds to magnificent parallels involving Katsushika Hokusai’s world-famous Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji (1830-1832) and Henri Riviere’s book, Les Trente-Six Vues de la Tour Eiffel (1902). Among the European and American artists slightly or heavily influenced by the Japanese print-making there were Paul Gauguin and Vincent van Gogh, Edouard Manet and Edgar Degas, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and Pierre Bonnard. Multiple works by James Abbott McNeill Whistler, Mary Cassatt, Arthur Wesley Dow, Frank Morley Fletcher, Bertha Lum, and Helen Hyde are also presented in the exhibition vividly demonstrating the depth of fascination with the Japanese color woodcut, prevalent in the West long after Japan’s “coming out” of cultural and political isolation to the global community. A special “artist studio” gallery is included in the exhibition featuring woodblocks, carving tools, sketch drawings, and explaining the process of creating color woodcut prints. The show runs through January 9, 2011 at the Legion of Honor at Lincoln Park, 34th Avenue and Clement Street, San Francisco. Call 415.750.3600 or visit for more information. Images: courtesy Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco: 1. Utagawa Hiroshige, Gion Shrine in the Snow: Famous Places in Kyoto (ca. 1834). 2. Henri Riviere, La Tour en construction, vue de Torcadero (1902).


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