RINGLING TO SHOWCASE A VENERABLE COLLECTION OF JAPANESE ART DECO
Deco Japan: Shaping Art & Culture, 1920-45 Runs July 13 to Oct. 28, 2012 at Ringling Museum
Sarasota, Fla. – April 17, 2012 – The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art presents Deco Japan: Shaping Art & Culture, 1920-1945, the first exhibition held outside Tokyo dedicated to Japanese expressions of Art Deco. Nearly 200 fine art objects and goods mass produced for the modern home from the Levenson collection -- the world’s premier private collection of Japanese art in the deco era -- are on view. The first showing in the southern U.S., this traveling exhibition organized by Art Services International runs July 13, 2012 to Oct. 28, 2012 in the Ulla R. and Arthur F. Searing Wing.
The exhibition features dramatic examples of sophisticated design and craftsmanship long associated with Japan, including sculpture, ceramics, furniture, glass, jewelry, metalwork, paintings, textiles, and lithography. Selected by Dr. Kendall Brown, Professor of Japanese Art History at California State University, Long Beach, these two- and three-dimensional works epitomize the contributions made by Japanese artists to Art Deco, a global international design movement in the early twentieth century. Dr. Brown has developed exhibitions of twentieth-century Japanese art for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, among others.
Recently, the Ringling Museum has exhibited a number of focused exhibitions to complement our permanent collection to create a clear association and appreciation for Asian art among our regular visitors and scholars in anticipation of the forthcoming Dr. Helga Wall-Apelt Gallery of Asian Art and Study Center at the Ringling. The Deco Japan exhibition highlights the cultural, formal and social aspects of Japanese deco. It sheds light on how during the early twentieth century Art Deco contributed to the emergence of a cosmopolitan nation shaping global trends in visual and performing arts, architecture, fashion and design.
The exhibition explores a broad variety of themes, including cultural diversity and the formal qualities of Japanese deco. Among the artwork is a ubiquitous deco motif of the flying fish — the ultimate 1930s emblem of stylish power in sea and air.
Beyond design, the exhibition features an examination of changing lifestyles with themes of travel, speed, consumption, luxury, exoticism and elegant distortion of form. The deco style was also linked with luxury commodities that decorated the modern home, such as lamps, clocks and bowls. It also featured human and animal figurines, demonstrating the ubiquity of the deco style.
Another key focus of the exhibition is how art reflected the social transitions that faced Japan in the first half of the twentieth century, including a greater visibility, prominence and freedom for women. The vitality of the era is expressed through the theme of the modern girl, known in Japan as the moga – the emblem of contemporary urban chic that flowered along with the Art Deco style of the 1920s and 1930s.
Lectures with specialists, Gallery Walk & Talks, and Art and a Movie evenings serve to complement the objects in the exhibition and create an enhanced cultural understanding. A catalogue accompanying the exhibition features essays by Dr. Brown and specialists from Europe, America, Australia, and Japan. It is available in the Museum Store and retails for $49.95.
The exhibition is drawn from The Levenson Collection and is organized and circulated by Art Services International, Alexandria, Virginia. Support has been provided by The Chisholm Foundation.
His Excellency, Mr. Ichiro Fujisaki, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan to the United States of America is Honorary Patron of the exhibition. The exhibition’s first international showing was at The Japan Society Gallery in New York in March 2012.