Do you know that giddy feeling when you know for sure that something great is just around the corner? Well, brace yourself, you’re going to have it too!

Hokusai, 36 Views of Mount Fuji - No. 32 - Fisherman and a child
Hokusai, 36 Views of Mount Fuji – No. 32 – Fisherman and a child

There’s a Hokusai Exhibition coming to Milan this fall, and I cannot wait to go there. The event’s full name is “HOKUSAI, HIROSHIGE, UTAMARO. Settings and Faces of Japan that Seduced the West” and it will be housed at Palazzo Reale from September 22nd 2016 to January 29th 2017. The display includes over 200 polychrome woodcuts and illustrated books executed in the tradition of ukyio-e from the prestigious collection of the Honolulu Museum of Art, and belongs to a series of events organized across Italy in order to celebrate 150 years of the cultural, economical, and political relations with Japan.

Hiroshige, Winter Landscape
Hiroshige, Winter Landscape

The exhibition will mainly focus upon the technical features, the skill and the eccentricity of each of the artists present in Milan, within the broader context of the peace and prosperity which characterized Japan under the rule of the Tokugawa shogun, during the Edo period, and culminated with the creation of a new, more homogeneous national cultural identity. The subjects which made it possible for the flourishing Japanese art to conquer the West from the mid nineteenth century onward were mostly traditional landscapes (thousands of views upon Mount Fuji, waterfalls, picturesque neighborhoods from Edo and Kyoto, delicate moons rising over silent cities, fisherman etc.), blossoming female beauty and portraits of famous kabuki actors.

Utamaro, Three Beauties of the Present Day
Utamaro, Three Beauties of the Present Day

The works of Hokusai, Hiroshige and Utamaro are divided into five sections and illustrate precisely the themes characteristic to the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century, around which they developed at times inevitable artistic rivalries. The woodcuts belonging to the most significant and the most important series of the three artists are juxtaposed to highlight the aspects mentioned above: recurring subjects and new techniques, all meant to satisfy the huge public demand. Nevertheless, each artist had also distinguished himself with at least one best-selling thematic series, such as Hokusai’s “Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji” (1830-32 approx.) or Hiroshige’s  “Fifty three post stations of Tōkaidō” (1833-34), Utamaro’s “Collections of Reigning Beauties” (1794-1797) and erotica.

Through their works, hugely influential artists such as Monet, Van Gogh, Degas, and Toulouse-Lautrec discovered the freshness and simplicity of Japanese art, in an era when Europe was still searching for new ways of expression, to match the new realities. No doubt about it, Japan continues to fascinate and inspire to this very day.

WHERE: Palazzo Reale, Piazza Duomo 12, Milano

WHEN: from September 22nd 2016 to January 29th 2017; closed on Mondays

HOW MUCH: full price € 12; reduced fee € 10 for disabled people, for people over 65 or from 6 to 26 years old; free admission for children under 6 years old

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