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Museum exhibition honors East Asian art scholar Shimizu

Saturday, March 28, through Sunday, Aug. 2, 2009 Princeton University Art Museum

The Princeton University Art Museum will present a new exhibition of Chinese and Japanese art in recognition of the career of Princeton art historian Yoshiaki Shimizu from Saturday, March 28, through Sunday, Aug. 2.

Titled "Memorable Encounters From Hōnen to de Kooning: In Honor of Yoshiaki Shimizu," the exhibition features works from the museum's permanent collection as well as recent gifts and new acquisitions in Shimizu's honor. Shimizu, the Marquand Professor of Art and Archaeology and a 1975 graduate alumnus, plans to retire this year.

An important work of Japanese art acquired by the museum in 2007, "Illustrated Gleanings From the Legends of Past Virtues (Shūikotokuden-e)" (ca. 1310-20), will be re-credited as a museum purchase in honor of Shimizu, who has taught at Princeton for 25 years. A pivotal scene of an illustrated biography of Hōnen-bō Genkū (1133-1212), founder of Japan's Pure Land School of Buddhism, it suggests parallels with Shimizu's roles as a leading scholar and a mentor for generations of students.

In his teaching at Princeton and at the University of California-Berkeley, as well as his time as curator of Japanese art at the Freer Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., Shimizu has helped define and expand the field of Japanese art history and the exhibition of the arts of Japan.

"Memorable Encounters" celebrates Shimizu's contribution to the field of East Asian art history and his wide-ranging scholarly interests, which cross the boundaries between the arts of Japan, China and the West, between traditional and contemporary art, and between artist and art historian. Two of Shimizu's own paintings will be included in the exhibition. The works on view -- ranging from Buddhist sculpture and ink painting to modern ceramics -- reveal an artistic dialogue between different cultures and mediums, and different ways of seeing.

The Department of Art and Archaeology also is honoring Shimizu with an exhibition titled "An Accidental Tourist in Post-World War II Japan." The exhibition features photographs taken by Egbert Giles Leigh, a 1925 Princeton alumnus who served as an economic and financial reconstruction official during the occupation of Japan by the United States and its allies after World War II. Leigh's photographs from his time in Japan from 1947 to 1950 were given to the Department of Art and Archaeology by his family and were in Shimizu's care for many years. These images are on display weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the first-floor lounge of McCormick Hall through Wednesday, Sept. 30.

Also accompanying the museum exhibition will be a two-day symposium in his honor, titled "Friends at a Brushwood Gate," from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, April 18-19, in McCosh 50. The symposium has been organized by the Tang Center for East Asian Art and cosponsored by the art museum, the Department of Art and Archaeology and the Program in East Asian Studies. For more information, visit the symposium website.

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