Thursday, January 19, 2017

GLENN GOLDBERG Photo A Week Challenge



If you’re like us, you’re always looking for inspiration. Recently, we decided to relaunch our Instagram and what better place for inspiration than the walls of an art gallery? Seeing something in a painting or sculpture makes you notice the beauty of things that you come across in everyday life. And that’s why we decided to put the challenge out to you to capture that something with a photo challenge inspired by our latest exhibition, Glenn Goldberg: Of Leaves and Clouds.

Glenn Goldberg’s works have a common feature: his ever-present dots over light washes of color creating multiple layers within each composition. His signature marks not only structure the space, but also are a record of his concentrated attention, time and devotion. His work ethic is apparent in the extraordinary details of layered textures he achieves. He draws his inspiration from nature, jazz music, textile design, African and Asian art, and decorative arts.

So, how does this photo challenge thing work? It’s easy:
  • Each Monday, we’ll post a detail from one of Glenn Goldberg’s pieces that inspires us and give you a prompt based on that. [In case you want to plan ahead, there’s a graphic above that outlines the prompts for the next 12 weeks.]
  • Use our prompt, and the art that inspired it, to think creatively and snap your own photo.
  • Post your photo to your Instagram account with the hashtag #GGphotoaweek.
  • Each Friday, we’ll look through the photos you’ve posted with #GGphotoaweek and choose a winner! We’ll repost that photo on our Instagram account instagram.com/bradygallery 
What do I need in order to do this? Just a phone with a camera and an Instagram account. No fancy photography skills required. (Although we’re interested in seeing what some of our professional photographer friends come up with!)  Keep the prompt in the back of your mind and when inspiration strikes, snap a pic and post it.

Are there prizes for the winners? Yes! We’ll announce the prize each Monday and contact the winner after we choose the winning photo on Friday.

Of course the best way to gain inspiration from these pieces is to see them in person. Glenn Goldberg: Of Leaves and Clouds is on view through April 14, 2017. We’re open 10:00 AM-5:00 PM, Tuesday - Friday.
Visit https://www.gwu.edu/~bradyart/brady/exhibitions.html for more information.

Still have questions? Ask us in the comments or email lutherbradyart@gmail.com


Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Scenic Overlook, Next Turn


scenic_overlook_arrow_sign
As the holidays approach, many of us will get into our cars and hit the road for a long drive. Before the road trip even begins, there is a lot of planning and anticipation containing mixed emotions of excitement, anxiety, or dread. The day of, the car is loaded up with suitcases packed frantically the night before. As a family member waits for others to pile into the car, he kicks the tires, making sure they have enough air. Right as the engine turns on, there is a shout from the backseat, “Wait! I forgot something!” Finally, the doors are shut, the heat is turned on, and Siri states that she has found the best route. While the car pulls out of the driveway, questions float in the car, “Is there enough gas?” “Will we get there on time?” “Where will we stop?”

The pieces in the exhibition Road Trip: A Journey through the GW Collection, record the moment when the music is turned on and the monotony of the road begins. It is during this time, no longer in the panic mode of preparing and anticipating, that the mind is at rest and open to contemplate and wander. The surrounding landscape begins to reveal its beauty, and there is a desire to capture these moments often through photography, paintings, songs, poems, or literature.



Karen Margo Lee, Winter Sunrise, 1989. Oil on canvas, 30 x 40 inches. GW 
Permanent Collection. MFA Thesis Acquisition, 1989.
Winter Sunrise (1989), painted by Karen Margo Lee, depicts a quiet scene on an empty back road. The hard lines of man-made objects associated with the road – a light post, a street sign, and power lines – are often omitted from a landscape painting, but here they are elevated. These objects, often seen as commonplace and ugly, make the landscape interesting. 
John Baeder, Chicken Chops, 1980. Silkscreen, ed. 219/
250, 16-1/4 x 24-1/2 inches. GW Permanent Collection.
Gift of Jayson D. Pankin, 1994.
In the print Chicken Chops (1980) by John Baeder, the photographer appreciates a diner and its setting. The scene is nostalgic for a time without drive-thrus and corporate chain restaurants. Often along the road, there are moments that the past reveals itself, and we are connected with all those who have driven the same road.


N. Jay Jaffee, Tire Store, n.d. Gelatin silver print. GW 
Permanent Collection. Gift of Gary Granoff, 1985.

The photograph Tire Store by N. Jay Jaffee, shows a worn down building that looks as if it may be on the verge of going out of business. But even here, the photographer stopped, taking a moment to appreciate the odd and kitschy tire shop.










Although often quoted, Ursula K. Le Guin’s words ring true –“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.” During the holidays, take a moment to look at this exhibition and discover what artists have found important enough to record during their road trips but also, look, and find pleasure in your own road trip.

Maria Gorbaty, Gallery AssistantRoad Trip: A Journey through the GW Collection is on view through January 31, 2017 on the first floor of GW's Media and Public Affairs Building, 805 21st Street NW.


Wednesday, October 12, 2016

A Brief History of Ando Hiroshige

          Often considered the last of the great Edo period (1603-1868) landscape print designers, Ando Hiroshige, also known as Utagawa Hiroshige, lived a relatively quiet life. He was the son of Ando Genemon a fire warden in Edo castle. Ando Hiroshige exhibited talent in art and was often seen practicing around the castle. At the tender age of 12, Hiroshige lost both of his parents and subsequently accepted the hereditary title of fire warden. Soon after, he applied for an apprenticeship at the Toyokuni School and Toyohiro School. The founders of both schools were students of the Utagawa Toyoharu. Hiroshige was only accepted at the Toyohiro School. Hiroshige progressed very quickly in the Toyohiro school and was later accepted into the Utagawa fraternity where he adopted the name Utagawa Hiroshige.

          While studying at the Toyohiro School, Hiroshige studied Kano and Shijo painting styles and created traditional ukiyo-e prints such as prints of kabuki actors and bijinga (beautiful women). He practiced print design part-time until his son was old enough to accept his position as fire warden at the castle. After his sensei (Toyohiro) died in 1830, Hiroshige started creating landscape paintings. In 1832, Hiroshige was invited on a convoy to escort a gift (a group of horses) to the emperor in Kyoto from the Shogun in Edo (now Tokyo). It was during this trip that Hiroshige created his most popular prints Fifty-three Stations of the Tokaido Road. In these prints, Hiroshige “combined a lyrical view of the countryside throughout the course of the four seasons with charmingly humorous depictions of the people and the local customs of each post stations” (Mason, 292). 

          Hiroshige wanted to bring something different to the world of ukiyo-e prints. Instead of focusing on traditional theme like bijinga (beautiful women) and kabuki actors, Hiroshige used landscape as his muse. Unlike Hokusai, Hiroshige presented nature in a simple, honest, straightforward, and emotional manner. He was able to harmoniously blend man with nature, creating prints that still capture audiences today (Strange, 130-134).

          It was only after his death in 1858 that Hiroshige received notoriety for his life’s work.  The forced opening of the Japanese borders by U.S. ships in 1853 and the signing of unequal treaties with foreign European nations caused the leaders of Edo to reevaluate Japanese foreign policy and led to the end of the Edo period in 1868.  Just as the Western countries were affecting Japan, Japan was also leaving its mark on the West most notably in the art world. Japanese culture inspired Western art so much that the term Japonisme was created in 1872 by Philippe Burty to describe the phenomenon. Hiroshige’s prints (along with many other designers) were distributed in Europe. Vincent Van Gogh was so inspired by Hiroshige’s prints, he made replicas of the scenes. Here is an example of one of Van Gogh replicas. On the left is Hiroshige’s print and on the right is Van Gogh’s painting of the print.
 

The Luther W. Brady Art Gallery is hosting an exhibit of first edition woodblock prints designed by Ando Hiroshige (1797-1858). The exhibit, Along the Eastern Road: Hiroshige’s Fifty-Three Stations of the Tokaido was organized by the Reading Public Museum and will be at the Brady Art Gallery until December 2.

- Denisha Phipps, GW Graduate Student in Exhibition Design and Public Engagement

Bibliography:
Ives, Colta. “Japonisme.” In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/jpon/hd_jpon.htm (October 2004)
Department of Asian Art. “Woodblock Prints in the Ukiyo-e Style.” In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/ukiy/hd_ukiy.htm (October 2003)
Strange, Edward. Hiroshige's Woodblock Prints: A Guide. New York: Dover Publications, 1983. Print.
Mason, Penelope E. History of Japanese Art. New York: Abrams, 1993. Print.



  

Monday, October 3, 2016

Ukiyo-e Woodblock Prints

          The word ukiyo stemmed from Buddhist origins, it means “floating world”. It was used to describe the impermanence of the human world and the belief that all things are short lived. During the Edo period (1600-1868) the word ukiyo changed; it was used to express that the fleeting nature of life was to be enjoyed to the fullest because of its ephemeral nature. The word became synonymous with the pleasure and theater districts of Edo (now Tokyo, Japan) that were constantly changing. Ukiyo-e literally translates to “floating world pictures”. Woodblock prints are the most representative art form of ukiyo-e and the Edo period.
Utagawa Hiroshige (Japanese, 1797-1858), 13th Station: Hara, circa 1833-4 from Fifty-Three Stations of the Tokaido Road, woodblock print, courtesy of Reading Public Museum, Reading, Pennsylvania
          Without the urbanization of Edo and the rise of the financial power of the chōnin (merchant class) ukiyo-e might not have gained as much popularity as it did. The chōnin class were subjected to sumptuary laws (ken'yakurei: laws regulating expenditures) created by the samurai class to keep up the illusions of the social system. The Japanese social structure was of a Confucian design (Samurai-Farmers-Artisans-Merchants) with samurai on the top of the social structure and merchants at the bottom. Many samurai families were going bankrupt while the chōnin class, the lowest social class, flourished financially. The sumptuary edicts restricted any display of wealth, including what chōnin could and could not wear. These laws created tension between the samurai elite and chōnin, so the chōnin class found ways around these laws by funding the arts and creating a place where they could enjoy themselves and spend their hard earned money, hence the “floating world” became a place where rich merchants could show and experience artistic pleasures.

          Ukiyo-e prints also served as very important pieces of print media. Traditional ukiyo-e prints showed images from the pleasure districts (such as Yoshiwara) of the urban cities like Edo. The images were of the beautiful courtesans (bijinga) and famous kabuki actors of the theater district. Similar to magazines of today, ukiyo-e prints during the Edo period provided fashion and culture tips for the wives of wealthy merchant and samurai families. They were also used for advertising and commerce. During the late Edo period a successful effort to bring landscape woodblock print into the world of ukiyo-e was made by Hokusai and Hiroshige. 

          The Luther W. Brady Art Gallery is hosting an exhibit of first edition woodblock prints designed by Ando Hiroshige (1797-1858).  The exhibit, Along the Eastern Road: Hiroshige’s Fifty-Three Stations of the Tokaido was organized by the Reading Public Museum and will be at the Brady Art Gallery until December 2.

Utagawa Hiroshige (Japanese, 1797-1858), 10th Station: Hakone, circa 1833-4 from Fifty-Three Stations of the Tokaido Road, woodblock print, courtesy of Reading Public Museum, Reading, Pennsylvania

- Denisha Phipps, GW Graduate Student in Exhibition Design and Public Engagement

Bibliography:
Strange, Edward. Hiroshige's Woodblock Prints: A Guide. New York: Dover Publications, 1983.                     Print.

Mason, Penelope E. History of Japanese Art. New York: Abrams, 1993. Print.

Slade, Toby. Japanese Fashion: A Cultural History. Oxford: Berg, 2009. Print.

Department of Asian Art. “Woodblock Prints in the Ukiyo-e Style.” In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/ukiy/hd_ukiy.htm (October 2003)


Department of Asian Art. “Art of the Pleasure Quarters and the Ukiyo-e Style.” In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/plea/hd_plea.htm (October 2004)

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Revisiting "Generations of the Washington Color School"

A lot has been written about the Washington Color School, by us and by others.  Some of the best known modern Washington artists were members or associated with the group - ames such as Gene Davis, Tom Downing, and Paul Reed. As important as they are to the history of art in Washington, D.C., it’s no surprise that their work is heavily represented in the GW Collection, shown in a number of exhibitions in the Dimock Gallery and the Luther W. Brady Art Gallery, and some of our favorites to highlight.

Installation view of "Generations of the Washington Color School"

Generations of the Washington Color School (June 7 - August 10, 1984) sought to show the continuation of the movement twenty years down the road, exhibiting works by the original members with their artistic protégés who were continuing in an exploration of color.  
Consisting of works from the GW Collection and others borrowed from artists and collectors, the exhibition in the Dimock Gallery included such highly regarded artists as Howard Mehring, Leon Berkowitz, Kenneth Noland, Sheila Isham, Willem de Looper, Michael Clark and others.  

Installation view of "Generations of the Washington Color School"

Now on view as part of Expansive Visions: GW Collection Past, Present, Future in the GW Museum and The Textile Museum are some familiar names and some familiar pieces. Isham’s Kuai and Alma Thomas’s Nature’s Red Impressions make repeat performances, sharing walls with more recent acquisitions by Susan Roth and Robin Rose. Sam Gilliam and Gene Davis are represented by newer works to the collection, the Untitled painting by Davis is more compact physically and visually than the ones included in Generations, while Gilliam’s Uguisu is the largest work in the collection!

Not to be forgotten, Michael Clark’s Beaux-Arts Windows is making a surprise appearance in our Pop-up display in 2000 Pennsylvania Avenue.  On view with three other works by DC artists, the arrangement aims to interrupt passers-by with an unexpected glimpse at the GW Collection while going about their day.  

See Expansive Visions, on view at the GW Museum and The Textile Museum, and visit our Pop-up in 2000 Penn through the end of the summer.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Makonde Tree of Life: Update #4

UPDATE #4: Lost and Found


Have you ever had to make a phone call and start it with “Please bear with me, this will make sense in a minute.”  After repeatedly explaining to the woman who answered my phone call at Morehouse College that I was trying to reach the President of that college, I was finally directed to his assistant who patiently listened to my story again.  


“I understand, that sounds like something Dr. Wilson owns.”  I was asked to email a picture and the story again and she would check for me.  


Two days later I got an email from Morehouse.  “Dr. Wilson would like to speak with you today, are you available?”  I wasn’t, but I made time.  


“Hello? Olivia?  You found my piece!”  


We had found the owner of the Makonde Tree of Life!  Turns out it wasn’t a Found In Collection after all, but an artwork accidentally left behind.  He didn’t have much time but I was able to get a bit of the story on the work from Dr. Wilson before he had to go.


On a trip to Tanzania, Dr. Wilson saw examples of Makonde carvings and bought a few on that trip to be shipped back to the United States.  He kept in touch with one of the carvers who came to the U.S. every few years and he believes our piece was purchased from the artist in New York.  He has several other Makonde works, a few that are very large, but none quite like this one.  


Confirming that the work was made of ebony root wood, Dr. Wilson said it symbolizes how “As we cooperate and work together, the community grows.”  


The work had been in his office at GW and when he left to work for the White House in 2009 he had asked that it be moved with the rest of his things, but it somehow got left behind. He thought it had been lost in the move and was overjoyed when he got the email from us. I told him that a few offices had expressed an interest in showing the work and he got quiet. “Olivia, I wish I could give it to you but for sentimental reasons I can’t. It was in my office at MIT. It was in my office at GW. I would love to have it here in my office at Morehouse.”  


Although we’ve solved the mystery of where this piece came from, who it belongs to, and where it’s going, we still have more questions to be answered - and only a few short weeks to find out.

Makonde Tree of Life: Update #3

UPDATE #3: Questions, questions


We frequently host classes from School Without Walls high school nearby.  Known for their energetic and inquisitive students I thought they would be a great fit to help me with our Makonde research project.  

Using the Project Zero Thinking Routine “See, Think, Wonder” we explored the Makonde Tree of Life.  Each student had a Post-it for each category and we put them up on the cases at the end to discuss.  I saved all of the “Wonder” Post-its to guide my inquiries.  This photo includes just a few of them.  As you can see, we’ve got a lot to do!


Some of the questions that came up over and over:

  • What does it mean?  
  • What does it represent?  
  • Is there a message?  
  • What is the story it’s telling?
  • When was it made?  
  • Who made it?  
  • How many people did it take to make?  
  • How did they make it?
  • Why was it left?
  • Is it completed?
  • Why was it created?
  • What is the inspiration?
  • Who was the intended audience?


Here’s hoping we can find out the answers to some of our questions!

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Covering exhibits at the Luther W. Brady Art Gallery and giving you a peek into the Permanent Collection of the George Washington University.

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Thursday, January 19, 2017

GLENN GOLDBERG Photo A Week Challenge



If you’re like us, you’re always looking for inspiration. Recently, we decided to relaunch our Instagram and what better place for inspiration than the walls of an art gallery? Seeing something in a painting or sculpture makes you notice the beauty of things that you come across in everyday life. And that’s why we decided to put the challenge out to you to capture that something with a photo challenge inspired by our latest exhibition, Glenn Goldberg: Of Leaves and Clouds.

Glenn Goldberg’s works have a common feature: his ever-present dots over light washes of color creating multiple layers within each composition. His signature marks not only structure the space, but also are a record of his concentrated attention, time and devotion. His work ethic is apparent in the extraordinary details of layered textures he achieves. He draws his inspiration from nature, jazz music, textile design, African and Asian art, and decorative arts.

So, how does this photo challenge thing work? It’s easy:
  • Each Monday, we’ll post a detail from one of Glenn Goldberg’s pieces that inspires us and give you a prompt based on that. [In case you want to plan ahead, there’s a graphic above that outlines the prompts for the next 12 weeks.]
  • Use our prompt, and the art that inspired it, to think creatively and snap your own photo.
  • Post your photo to your Instagram account with the hashtag #GGphotoaweek.
  • Each Friday, we’ll look through the photos you’ve posted with #GGphotoaweek and choose a winner! We’ll repost that photo on our Instagram account instagram.com/bradygallery 
What do I need in order to do this? Just a phone with a camera and an Instagram account. No fancy photography skills required. (Although we’re interested in seeing what some of our professional photographer friends come up with!)  Keep the prompt in the back of your mind and when inspiration strikes, snap a pic and post it.

Are there prizes for the winners? Yes! We’ll announce the prize each Monday and contact the winner after we choose the winning photo on Friday.

Of course the best way to gain inspiration from these pieces is to see them in person. Glenn Goldberg: Of Leaves and Clouds is on view through April 14, 2017. We’re open 10:00 AM-5:00 PM, Tuesday - Friday.
Visit https://www.gwu.edu/~bradyart/brady/exhibitions.html for more information.

Still have questions? Ask us in the comments or email lutherbradyart@gmail.com


Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Scenic Overlook, Next Turn


scenic_overlook_arrow_sign
As the holidays approach, many of us will get into our cars and hit the road for a long drive. Before the road trip even begins, there is a lot of planning and anticipation containing mixed emotions of excitement, anxiety, or dread. The day of, the car is loaded up with suitcases packed frantically the night before. As a family member waits for others to pile into the car, he kicks the tires, making sure they have enough air. Right as the engine turns on, there is a shout from the backseat, “Wait! I forgot something!” Finally, the doors are shut, the heat is turned on, and Siri states that she has found the best route. While the car pulls out of the driveway, questions float in the car, “Is there enough gas?” “Will we get there on time?” “Where will we stop?”

The pieces in the exhibition Road Trip: A Journey through the GW Collection, record the moment when the music is turned on and the monotony of the road begins. It is during this time, no longer in the panic mode of preparing and anticipating, that the mind is at rest and open to contemplate and wander. The surrounding landscape begins to reveal its beauty, and there is a desire to capture these moments often through photography, paintings, songs, poems, or literature.



Karen Margo Lee, Winter Sunrise, 1989. Oil on canvas, 30 x 40 inches. GW 
Permanent Collection. MFA Thesis Acquisition, 1989.
Winter Sunrise (1989), painted by Karen Margo Lee, depicts a quiet scene on an empty back road. The hard lines of man-made objects associated with the road – a light post, a street sign, and power lines – are often omitted from a landscape painting, but here they are elevated. These objects, often seen as commonplace and ugly, make the landscape interesting. 
John Baeder, Chicken Chops, 1980. Silkscreen, ed. 219/
250, 16-1/4 x 24-1/2 inches. GW Permanent Collection.
Gift of Jayson D. Pankin, 1994.
In the print Chicken Chops (1980) by John Baeder, the photographer appreciates a diner and its setting. The scene is nostalgic for a time without drive-thrus and corporate chain restaurants. Often along the road, there are moments that the past reveals itself, and we are connected with all those who have driven the same road.


N. Jay Jaffee, Tire Store, n.d. Gelatin silver print. GW 
Permanent Collection. Gift of Gary Granoff, 1985.

The photograph Tire Store by N. Jay Jaffee, shows a worn down building that looks as if it may be on the verge of going out of business. But even here, the photographer stopped, taking a moment to appreciate the odd and kitschy tire shop.










Although often quoted, Ursula K. Le Guin’s words ring true –“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.” During the holidays, take a moment to look at this exhibition and discover what artists have found important enough to record during their road trips but also, look, and find pleasure in your own road trip.

Maria Gorbaty, Gallery AssistantRoad Trip: A Journey through the GW Collection is on view through January 31, 2017 on the first floor of GW's Media and Public Affairs Building, 805 21st Street NW.


Wednesday, October 12, 2016

A Brief History of Ando Hiroshige

          Often considered the last of the great Edo period (1603-1868) landscape print designers, Ando Hiroshige, also known as Utagawa Hiroshige, lived a relatively quiet life. He was the son of Ando Genemon a fire warden in Edo castle. Ando Hiroshige exhibited talent in art and was often seen practicing around the castle. At the tender age of 12, Hiroshige lost both of his parents and subsequently accepted the hereditary title of fire warden. Soon after, he applied for an apprenticeship at the Toyokuni School and Toyohiro School. The founders of both schools were students of the Utagawa Toyoharu. Hiroshige was only accepted at the Toyohiro School. Hiroshige progressed very quickly in the Toyohiro school and was later accepted into the Utagawa fraternity where he adopted the name Utagawa Hiroshige.

          While studying at the Toyohiro School, Hiroshige studied Kano and Shijo painting styles and created traditional ukiyo-e prints such as prints of kabuki actors and bijinga (beautiful women). He practiced print design part-time until his son was old enough to accept his position as fire warden at the castle. After his sensei (Toyohiro) died in 1830, Hiroshige started creating landscape paintings. In 1832, Hiroshige was invited on a convoy to escort a gift (a group of horses) to the emperor in Kyoto from the Shogun in Edo (now Tokyo). It was during this trip that Hiroshige created his most popular prints Fifty-three Stations of the Tokaido Road. In these prints, Hiroshige “combined a lyrical view of the countryside throughout the course of the four seasons with charmingly humorous depictions of the people and the local customs of each post stations” (Mason, 292). 

          Hiroshige wanted to bring something different to the world of ukiyo-e prints. Instead of focusing on traditional theme like bijinga (beautiful women) and kabuki actors, Hiroshige used landscape as his muse. Unlike Hokusai, Hiroshige presented nature in a simple, honest, straightforward, and emotional manner. He was able to harmoniously blend man with nature, creating prints that still capture audiences today (Strange, 130-134).

          It was only after his death in 1858 that Hiroshige received notoriety for his life’s work.  The forced opening of the Japanese borders by U.S. ships in 1853 and the signing of unequal treaties with foreign European nations caused the leaders of Edo to reevaluate Japanese foreign policy and led to the end of the Edo period in 1868.  Just as the Western countries were affecting Japan, Japan was also leaving its mark on the West most notably in the art world. Japanese culture inspired Western art so much that the term Japonisme was created in 1872 by Philippe Burty to describe the phenomenon. Hiroshige’s prints (along with many other designers) were distributed in Europe. Vincent Van Gogh was so inspired by Hiroshige’s prints, he made replicas of the scenes. Here is an example of one of Van Gogh replicas. On the left is Hiroshige’s print and on the right is Van Gogh’s painting of the print.
 

The Luther W. Brady Art Gallery is hosting an exhibit of first edition woodblock prints designed by Ando Hiroshige (1797-1858). The exhibit, Along the Eastern Road: Hiroshige’s Fifty-Three Stations of the Tokaido was organized by the Reading Public Museum and will be at the Brady Art Gallery until December 2.

- Denisha Phipps, GW Graduate Student in Exhibition Design and Public Engagement

Bibliography:
Ives, Colta. “Japonisme.” In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/jpon/hd_jpon.htm (October 2004)
Department of Asian Art. “Woodblock Prints in the Ukiyo-e Style.” In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/ukiy/hd_ukiy.htm (October 2003)
Strange, Edward. Hiroshige's Woodblock Prints: A Guide. New York: Dover Publications, 1983. Print.
Mason, Penelope E. History of Japanese Art. New York: Abrams, 1993. Print.



  

Monday, October 3, 2016

Ukiyo-e Woodblock Prints

          The word ukiyo stemmed from Buddhist origins, it means “floating world”. It was used to describe the impermanence of the human world and the belief that all things are short lived. During the Edo period (1600-1868) the word ukiyo changed; it was used to express that the fleeting nature of life was to be enjoyed to the fullest because of its ephemeral nature. The word became synonymous with the pleasure and theater districts of Edo (now Tokyo, Japan) that were constantly changing. Ukiyo-e literally translates to “floating world pictures”. Woodblock prints are the most representative art form of ukiyo-e and the Edo period.
Utagawa Hiroshige (Japanese, 1797-1858), 13th Station: Hara, circa 1833-4 from Fifty-Three Stations of the Tokaido Road, woodblock print, courtesy of Reading Public Museum, Reading, Pennsylvania
          Without the urbanization of Edo and the rise of the financial power of the chōnin (merchant class) ukiyo-e might not have gained as much popularity as it did. The chōnin class were subjected to sumptuary laws (ken'yakurei: laws regulating expenditures) created by the samurai class to keep up the illusions of the social system. The Japanese social structure was of a Confucian design (Samurai-Farmers-Artisans-Merchants) with samurai on the top of the social structure and merchants at the bottom. Many samurai families were going bankrupt while the chōnin class, the lowest social class, flourished financially. The sumptuary edicts restricted any display of wealth, including what chōnin could and could not wear. These laws created tension between the samurai elite and chōnin, so the chōnin class found ways around these laws by funding the arts and creating a place where they could enjoy themselves and spend their hard earned money, hence the “floating world” became a place where rich merchants could show and experience artistic pleasures.

          Ukiyo-e prints also served as very important pieces of print media. Traditional ukiyo-e prints showed images from the pleasure districts (such as Yoshiwara) of the urban cities like Edo. The images were of the beautiful courtesans (bijinga) and famous kabuki actors of the theater district. Similar to magazines of today, ukiyo-e prints during the Edo period provided fashion and culture tips for the wives of wealthy merchant and samurai families. They were also used for advertising and commerce. During the late Edo period a successful effort to bring landscape woodblock print into the world of ukiyo-e was made by Hokusai and Hiroshige. 

          The Luther W. Brady Art Gallery is hosting an exhibit of first edition woodblock prints designed by Ando Hiroshige (1797-1858).  The exhibit, Along the Eastern Road: Hiroshige’s Fifty-Three Stations of the Tokaido was organized by the Reading Public Museum and will be at the Brady Art Gallery until December 2.

Utagawa Hiroshige (Japanese, 1797-1858), 10th Station: Hakone, circa 1833-4 from Fifty-Three Stations of the Tokaido Road, woodblock print, courtesy of Reading Public Museum, Reading, Pennsylvania

- Denisha Phipps, GW Graduate Student in Exhibition Design and Public Engagement

Bibliography:
Strange, Edward. Hiroshige's Woodblock Prints: A Guide. New York: Dover Publications, 1983.                     Print.

Mason, Penelope E. History of Japanese Art. New York: Abrams, 1993. Print.

Slade, Toby. Japanese Fashion: A Cultural History. Oxford: Berg, 2009. Print.

Department of Asian Art. “Woodblock Prints in the Ukiyo-e Style.” In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/ukiy/hd_ukiy.htm (October 2003)


Department of Asian Art. “Art of the Pleasure Quarters and the Ukiyo-e Style.” In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/plea/hd_plea.htm (October 2004)

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Revisiting "Generations of the Washington Color School"

A lot has been written about the Washington Color School, by us and by others.  Some of the best known modern Washington artists were members or associated with the group - ames such as Gene Davis, Tom Downing, and Paul Reed. As important as they are to the history of art in Washington, D.C., it’s no surprise that their work is heavily represented in the GW Collection, shown in a number of exhibitions in the Dimock Gallery and the Luther W. Brady Art Gallery, and some of our favorites to highlight.

Installation view of "Generations of the Washington Color School"

Generations of the Washington Color School (June 7 - August 10, 1984) sought to show the continuation of the movement twenty years down the road, exhibiting works by the original members with their artistic protégés who were continuing in an exploration of color.  
Consisting of works from the GW Collection and others borrowed from artists and collectors, the exhibition in the Dimock Gallery included such highly regarded artists as Howard Mehring, Leon Berkowitz, Kenneth Noland, Sheila Isham, Willem de Looper, Michael Clark and others.  

Installation view of "Generations of the Washington Color School"

Now on view as part of Expansive Visions: GW Collection Past, Present, Future in the GW Museum and The Textile Museum are some familiar names and some familiar pieces. Isham’s Kuai and Alma Thomas’s Nature’s Red Impressions make repeat performances, sharing walls with more recent acquisitions by Susan Roth and Robin Rose. Sam Gilliam and Gene Davis are represented by newer works to the collection, the Untitled painting by Davis is more compact physically and visually than the ones included in Generations, while Gilliam’s Uguisu is the largest work in the collection!

Not to be forgotten, Michael Clark’s Beaux-Arts Windows is making a surprise appearance in our Pop-up display in 2000 Pennsylvania Avenue.  On view with three other works by DC artists, the arrangement aims to interrupt passers-by with an unexpected glimpse at the GW Collection while going about their day.  

See Expansive Visions, on view at the GW Museum and The Textile Museum, and visit our Pop-up in 2000 Penn through the end of the summer.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Makonde Tree of Life: Update #4

UPDATE #4: Lost and Found


Have you ever had to make a phone call and start it with “Please bear with me, this will make sense in a minute.”  After repeatedly explaining to the woman who answered my phone call at Morehouse College that I was trying to reach the President of that college, I was finally directed to his assistant who patiently listened to my story again.  


“I understand, that sounds like something Dr. Wilson owns.”  I was asked to email a picture and the story again and she would check for me.  


Two days later I got an email from Morehouse.  “Dr. Wilson would like to speak with you today, are you available?”  I wasn’t, but I made time.  


“Hello? Olivia?  You found my piece!”  


We had found the owner of the Makonde Tree of Life!  Turns out it wasn’t a Found In Collection after all, but an artwork accidentally left behind.  He didn’t have much time but I was able to get a bit of the story on the work from Dr. Wilson before he had to go.


On a trip to Tanzania, Dr. Wilson saw examples of Makonde carvings and bought a few on that trip to be shipped back to the United States.  He kept in touch with one of the carvers who came to the U.S. every few years and he believes our piece was purchased from the artist in New York.  He has several other Makonde works, a few that are very large, but none quite like this one.  


Confirming that the work was made of ebony root wood, Dr. Wilson said it symbolizes how “As we cooperate and work together, the community grows.”  


The work had been in his office at GW and when he left to work for the White House in 2009 he had asked that it be moved with the rest of his things, but it somehow got left behind. He thought it had been lost in the move and was overjoyed when he got the email from us. I told him that a few offices had expressed an interest in showing the work and he got quiet. “Olivia, I wish I could give it to you but for sentimental reasons I can’t. It was in my office at MIT. It was in my office at GW. I would love to have it here in my office at Morehouse.”  


Although we’ve solved the mystery of where this piece came from, who it belongs to, and where it’s going, we still have more questions to be answered - and only a few short weeks to find out.

Makonde Tree of Life: Update #3

UPDATE #3: Questions, questions


We frequently host classes from School Without Walls high school nearby.  Known for their energetic and inquisitive students I thought they would be a great fit to help me with our Makonde research project.  

Using the Project Zero Thinking Routine “See, Think, Wonder” we explored the Makonde Tree of Life.  Each student had a Post-it for each category and we put them up on the cases at the end to discuss.  I saved all of the “Wonder” Post-its to guide my inquiries.  This photo includes just a few of them.  As you can see, we’ve got a lot to do!


Some of the questions that came up over and over:

  • What does it mean?  
  • What does it represent?  
  • Is there a message?  
  • What is the story it’s telling?
  • When was it made?  
  • Who made it?  
  • How many people did it take to make?  
  • How did they make it?
  • Why was it left?
  • Is it completed?
  • Why was it created?
  • What is the inspiration?
  • Who was the intended audience?


Here’s hoping we can find out the answers to some of our questions!

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About

Washington, District of Columbia, United States
"Found In Collection" or simply "FIC" is the way many museums classify the more mysterious items in their possession that have little or no documentation. Here at the Luther W. Brady Art Gallery of the George Washington University, we do keep extensive records of our collection, but some of the items we come across in academic buildings or our own storage can leave us wondering. This blog is an effort to showcase some of the more curious examples and their stories, and to provide a glimpse of the great variety of art pieces within the collection. To learn more about the Brady Gallery's history, recent exhibitions, or the George Washington University, take a look at the links below.

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