Suzuki Harunobu, Ofuji at the Moto-Yanagiya with a female customer, ca. 1769
Suzuki Harunobu (Japanese, 1725?-1770), Ofuji at the Moto-Yanagiya with a female customer, ca. 1769, color woodblock print on paper, Bequest of Winslow B. Ayer, 35.40.

Suzuki Harunobu and the Culture of Color

JUN 23 – SEP 16, 2018

Young lovers, fashionable beauties, parodies of classical themes, and sweet scenes of everyday life: these were the chosen subjects of Suzuki Harunobu’s (1725?-1770) explosively popular nishiki-e (brocade prints). Produced in the full-color printing technique, nishiki-e replaced designs limited to two or three colors. Harunobu’s short but prolific career made a lasting mark on the history of Japanese prints. Thereafter, the culture of color—increasingly saturated, sophisticated, and technically superb—was firmly embedded in the visual culture of prints.

This focused exhibition investigates Harunobu’s contributions to the culture of color—and our discussions of his legacy ever since. Exploring the artistry of his clever, elegant prints, it presents highlights of the permanent collection, including many designs that are now extremely rare or the only known impression.

The exhibition will incorporate new scientific research into the physical materials of these important prints. This collaboration between Tami Lasseter Clare, Ph.D., of Portland State University, curator Jeannie Kenmotsu, Ph.D., and Museum conservator Samantha Springer will offer another perspective on the culture
of color.

Organized by the Portland Art Museum and curated by Jeannie Kenmotsu, Ph.D., Japan Foundation Assistant Curator for Japanese Art.