The Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens houses an extensive collection of ukiyo-e prints. Fields of Color: The Art of Japanese Printmaking, currently on view at the Museum, features 19 of these prints, ranging from the 19th to early 20th centuries. Ukiyo-e, which translates to “picture(s) of the floating world”, traditionally depicted images that were easy to relate to or held common interest, such as scenes of entertainment, fantasy, history, or everyday life. Because of their mass production, these images were easily accessible to all levels of Japanese society. These images were so common that some even used the prints as wrapping paper!
The genre of ukiyo-e paved the way for many modern artistic styles, including Manga, comic books, and anime. Ukiyo-e prints were created for a mass audience, and functioned as the “pop culture of choice” for their day. While some scenes depicted in ukiyo-e mirror the peaceful and dignified themes of fine art, many are full of violence and fantasy and would look at home in modern comics, Manga, and anime. One of the “fathers” of Manga, Katsushika Hokusai, is best known for his ukiyo-e print The Great Wave off Kanagawa, but also published the book “Hokusai Manga” which helped to establish the craft of Manga-style art. Hokusai’s Pictures of 100 Poems by 100 Poets, as Explained by the Wet Nurse: Poem by the Lady of Ise is currently on view at the Cummer Museum.
The stories represented in these pieces are best told through their images, not their words. Fields of Color: The Art of Japanese Printmaking is on view through January 13, 2019. Do not miss the rare opportunity to see these incredible works in person!