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For immediate release: Dec. 28, 2001

Contact: Alfred Bush, 609-258-6156

Exhibition celebrates Japanese prints

Princeton, N.J. -- A small exhibition in the lobby of Princeton University's Firestone Library showcases masterworks of the art of Japanese prints, as well as instruction on how Japanese papermaking, drawing wood carving and printing served this art. The exhibition, "Ukiyo-E: Japanese Woodblock Color Prints," runs through Jan. 31.

First appearing during the Edo period of Japan (1603-1868) when the middle-class began buying woodblock prints produced by the ukiyo-e (floating world) artists, these prints reflect life in urban Japan. Considered a low art form when it emerged, Japanese woodblock prints not only preserve a record of urban life, but also celebrate the Japanese reverence for nature. Kabuki actors, courtesans and Sumo wrestlers were some of the favorite urban subjects, while landscapes, flora and fauna record the close observation of nature for which the Japanese artist still is celebrated.

The exhibition includes works by masters such as Utamaro and Hokusai, including Utamaro's "Flowers of Four Seasons," an original book of block prints dating to 1801.

The five prints and one illustrated book were selected for the exhibition by Ted Stanley, the paper conservator of the library. Viewers will discover that the work of the printer was done to the publisher's demands rather than to the artist's. In curating this exhibition Stanley drew on works from both the collections of the Graphic Arts Collection in the library and the private holdings of Gillett Griffin, whose collection of Japanese prints has been used to instruct generations of undergraduates in the history of the print.

Editors: An image from the exhibition, one of Hokusai's "36 View of Mount Fugi," is available at
The print is from the collection of Gillett Griffin.