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By Lauren Vadnjal
December 17, 2019
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Japanese Modernism

The NGV is bringing 190 early-20th century Japanese works to Australia for the first time.
By Lauren Vadnjal
December 17, 2019
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UPDATE: MARCH 29, 2020 — Japanese Modernism is reopening to the public on Saturday, June 27. Bookings are essential.

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The NGV has charted the history of Japanese art quite extensively over the last few years with its Hokusai exhibition in 2017 and subsequent look into the influence that late 19th century artists had on western modern art.

Its next Japan-centric exhibition, Japanese Modernism, skips forward to the 1920s and 30s — a time that spawned financial independence for women and access to international travel, and saw the cities gain movie theatres and department stores. This filtered down Japan's art and fashion, and can be seen in Art Nouveau-printed kimonos and Art Deco paintings, posters and wood block prints.

Included in the exhibition will be a 36-print work commissioned by publisher Hoshino Seki in 1924, called The Great Taisho earthquake and fire, which show the aftermath of 1923's devastating Kanto earthquake — it had a huge impact on Japanese society at the time. Taniguchi Fumie's 1935 six-screen work Preparing to go out, also part of the exhibition, conveys society's attitudes towards women and consumerism at the time. Kimonos, glassware and bronzeware also feature, too.

All up, there will be 190 pieces on display. The NGV has spent five years collecting these works — and this will be the first time any of them have been seen in Australia. Many of the pieces have been purchased by the gallery and will be added to the permanent collection.

'Cut glass tumblers' (c 1930s) inside Japanese Modernism. Photo by Tom Ross

Top images: Installation views of Japanese Modernism at National Gallery of Victoria. Photos by Tom Ross.

Update February 28, 2020.

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