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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Life Of Cats: Selections From The Hiraki Ukiyo-e Collection

For Cat, history and art lovers, the Japan Society has what you are looking for!

Between March 13 - June 7, 2015 at the Japan Society in New York (333 East 47th Street, New York, NY 10017), the show: Life of Cats: Selections from the Hiraki Ukiyo-e Collection is on view.

To give you a taste, here's a YOUTUBE video giving us all some good historical data, information on how ukiyo-e are made, but really, it's all about the Japanese fondness for cats.

You might be surprised to learn, that cats were ONLY introduced to Japan in the 6th century AD, from ships calling to port.

Below, taken from the video's description is what the Japan Society show is all about.

Since arriving in Japan aboard Japanese ships transporting sacred Buddhist scriptures from China in the mid-sixth century, cats have proceeded to purr and paw their way into the heart of Japanese life, folklore, and art. Life of Cats: Selections from the Hiraki Ukiyo-e Collection illustrates the depth of this mutual attraction by mining the wealth of bravura depictions of cats to be found in ukiyo-e woodblock prints of the Edo Period (1615-1868).

Ninety ukiyo-e prints in the exhibition are on loan from the esteemed Hiraki Ukiyo-e Foundation whose holdings are revered in Japan. Select prints, paintings, sculptures, and other works borrowed from U.S. collections complement these prints, making the exhibition over 120 artworks. With cross-cultural and multi-generational appeal, Life of Cats takes viewers on a wild ride through Japan’s love affair with our feline friends.

Roughly 50 items will be replaced with new works halfway through Life of Cats—Rotation 1 will be on view from March 13 until April 26; Rotation 2 will be on view from April 29 until June 7. The exhibition will be closed on April 27-28th for the re-installation.

Adults: $12;
Students & seniors: $10;
Japan Society members & children under 16 free.
Admission is free to all on Friday nights, 6-9 PM.

Gallery Hours:
Tueday-Thursday: 11 AM - 6 PM
Friday 11 AM - 9 PM
Saturday & Sunday: 11 AM -5 PM
Closed Mondays, major holidays, and Tuesday, April 28th.

Docent-led Tours:
Starting Friday, March 13, through Sunday, June 7, 2015, docent-led walk-in tours will be conducted Tuesday-Sunday at 2:30 PM and Friday evenings at 7 PM. Japanese language tours will be conducted Friday nights at 6 PM. Tours are free with admission and are approximately one hour in duration.

Gallery Lessons:
Pre-K-12th grade school groups can schedule object-centered, one-hour Gallery lessons Tuesday–Friday by appointment. For more information about arranging group tours, please call (212) 715-1223. Two weeks advance request recommended.

Life of Cats is divided into five sections: Cats and People, Cats as People, Cats versus People, Cats Transformed and Cats and Play.

Featuring artwork by Hiroshige Utagawa, Kunisada II (Utagawa), Koyusai Isoda, Yoshitoshi Tsukioka, Kunisada Utagawa, Sadahide Gountei, Kuniyoshi Utagawa, Yoshiiku Utagawa, Kunichika Toyohara, Shun'ei Katsukawa, Hiroaki (Shotei) Takahashi, kokei Yoshimura, Chikudo Kishi, Yoshifuji Utagawa, Sukenobu Nishikawa, Koen Niwayama and more.

What's cool (for me), is that I own ukiyo-e art created by many of the artists named above.

More information can be found at

The Japan Society makes me wish I lived in New York City.

If you are in the neighborhood, check it out, and let me know how the show was, and what your experience with the Japan Society was like.

I'm more of a dog person than cat, but I have had a cat pretty much non-stop since I was 14-years-old, with the biggest interruption occurring while I was in Japan, of all places. Even still, for a short two days amounting to about a cumulative 16 hours time, I had a cat in Ohtawara-shi, Tochigi-ken. A stray had been mewing at my front door, I let him in, we bonded over milk and cat food I went out and bought for him, and the next morning, mewing to go out, he walked out of my life forever.

You never get used to sh!t like that. At least I don't. Probably because I don't have a heart made of granite.

Japan Society... put me on your mailing list and let me know when you have another new exhibition!

Andrew Joseph
PS: Image at the very top was taken from the Japan Society website. It shows a close-up detail of the 1888 Looking Tiresome: The Appearance of a Virgin of the Kansai Era, ukiyo-e from the series Thirty-two Aspects of Customs and Manners by master artist Yoshitoshi Tsukioka (surname first) (1839-1892). The woodblock print is 22-1/2" x 16" (57.15cm x 40.64cm). Original image from the Hiraki Ukiyo-e Foundation.

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