Two famous artists of the Ukiyo-e woodcut print genre popular during the height of the era of the Samurai, Utagawa Kunisada and Utagawa Kuniyoshi, are an interesting contrast in styles. And the Bunkamura Museum in Shibuya, Tokyo, will be holding an exhibition from March 19 – June 5.
In the Edo period (1603–1868), when there were no televisions and pinup magazines, the ukiyo-e was the equivalent of the modern-day pinups of celebrities, and served as an important medium for presenting the latest entertainment and fashion.
This exhibition showcases prints by Utagawa Kuniyoshi and Utagawa Kunisada, two talented ukiyo-e artists who enjoyed enormous success in the late Edo period. Through these works, handpicked from the world-acclaimed ukiyo-e collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, we hope to provide visitors with an experience of Edo society.
Despite being fellow apprentices, the two artists differ greatly in style: Kuniyoshi took the public by storm with his dynamic images of warriors and his bold compositions, Kunisada with his urbane portraits of beautiful women and his signature intricacy. The men of Edo were likely captivated by Kuniyoshi’s depiction of heroism, identifying with its heroes and infatuated by its spirited, poised, beautiful heroines. On the other hand, the women of Edo were enraptured by Kunisada’s dazzling kabuki actors, and aspired to the beauty of his sensual female forms. The aim of this exhibition is to enable visitors to appreciate these works instinctively, exploring the feelings that we of today share with Edo-period fans of Kuniyoshi and Kunisada.