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Japanese Artists Respond to Modernity in Two Smithsonian Freer|Sackler Exhibitions

Japan Modern: Photography from the Gloria Katz and Willard Huyck Collection and Japan Modern: Prints in the Age of Photography are on view at the Freer|Sackler through January 21.

Seikan Ferryboat, from the series Karasu (Ravens); Fukase Masahisa (1934–2012); Japan, 1976; gelatin silver print; partial gift from Gloria Katz and Willard Huyck, and purchased through the Freer|Sackler acquisitions fund in honor of Julian Raby, director emeritus of the Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, S2018.2.24. © Masahisa Fukase Archives, courtesy of Michael Hoppen Gallery in London.

Japan Modern comprises two exhibitions that trace Japan’s response to modernity—one through prints, one through photography. Celebrating the Freer|Sackler’s recent acquisition of a major Japanese photography collection, Japan Modern: Photography from the Gloria Katz and Willard Huyck Collection features a selection of works by groundbreaking twentieth-century photographers. Whether capturing evocative landscapes or the gritty realities of postwar Japan, this presentation focuses on Japanese artists’ search for a sense of place in a rapidly changing country.

“Photographers sought to grasp a sense of self and place in the midst of economic, social, and physical transformation occurring throughout Japan,” said Carol Huh, Freer|Sackler associate curator of contemporary Asian art. “This exhibition presents nearly eighty works that highlight seminal moments in the development of twentieth-century Japanese photography.”

Japan Modern: Prints in the Age of Photography examines Japanese artists’ reactions to modernity through woodblock prints. The exhibition explores the collapse of the traditional print industry in the late nineteenth century and its resurrection as printmakers recorded scenes of their changing country in increasingly innovative ways.

Japan Modern is generously sponsored by Mitsubishi Corporation. Photographs exhibited in Japan Modern are a partial gift from Gloria Katz and Willard Huyck and purchased through the Freer|Sackler acquisitions fund in honor of Julian Raby, director emeritus of the Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery.

Japan Modern is on view at the Freer|Sackler, the Smithsonian’s museums of Asian art in Washington, DC, through January 21. The exhibitions are free and open to the public.