Hokusai, Hiroshige, Utamaro. Settings and faces of Japan that seduced the West
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Hokusai, Hiroshige, Utamaro. Settings and faces of Japan that seduced the West

September 22nd, 2016 - January 29th, 2017

From September 22nd 2016, Palazzo Reale presents a major retrospective with a selection of over 200 works from three great ukiyo-e masters, Hokusai, Hiroshige and Utamaro. They come to Milan to narrate the Floating World, the hedonistic lifestyle disparate to the ethics of samurai and dedicated to the enjoyment of every single moment and to pleasure in all its forms. Many schools and artists specialized in these topics but the aforesaid three are the masters who are still upheld as the undisputed points of reference: Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849), Utagawa Hiroshige (1797-1858) and Kitagawa Utamaro (1753-1806).

The exhibition  - with approximately 200 woodblock prints and illustrated books loaned  from the prestigious Honolulu Academy of Arts collection - is promoted and produced by the municipality of Milan in collaboration with MondoMostre Skira and is curated by Rossella Menegazzo, Professor of Asian Art History at the Università degli Studi of Milan.

On the one hand the exhibition will highlight the technical aspects, skills and eccentricity of the individual artists and, on the other, the demands of the art market of the era which made specific subjects, popular faces, places, themes and fashionable characters a prerequisite. Inevitably rivalry flourished with the situation, both between the artists themselves and the publishers who produced the works and vied with the best painters, engravers and printers to create an accumulative number of  series of different prints in vertical, horizontal, fan-shaped and book formats to meet the needs of an increasingly demanding and extensive publishing market.

The exhibition itinerary presents a selection of woodcuts from the most significant series of the three artists, emphasising how they all worked on the same recurring subjects and how, in order to sell them, publishers were obliged to invent expedients such as different formats and different frames.

The exhibition is part of a calendar of events to be held in Italy throughout 2016 to celebrate the 150th anniversary of relations between Japan and Italy. The first Treaty of Friendship and Commerce between Italy and Japan was signed on 25th August 1866 and it initiated the diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Important dealings between them had already been established in previous centuries at the behest of individual fiefdoms and aristocracy of the sword that were appreciative of Western culture and the Christian religion.  Starting from the sixteenth century fact-finding missions were sent to America, Europe and, in particular, to Italy and the Vatican, nevertheless, the treaty of 1866 was the first to be signed between modern countries after more than two centuries Japan’s national isolation.

CHANGE IN OPENING TIMES: in order to better conserve and protect the works on display the exhibition will be closed on Mondays and, on Saturdays, the closing time will be brought forward from 22.30 to 19.30.

Exhibition produced by the Milan Municipal Dept. of Culture, Palazzo Reale, MondoMostre Skira.

Curated by Rossella Menegazzo.


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      • Price of ticket

        Audioguide included
        Full price: € 12
        Reductions: € 10 students, groups, over 65, disabled visitors and pre-arranged deals
        Schools: € 6 (also valid for groups organized by the Touring Club and FAI)
        Families: € 10 adults and € 6 children (from 6 to 14 years old)

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