Dorrance Special Exhibition Galleries, first floor
The Kano family's creative legacy endured for four hundred years, forever defining Japanese art. Experience breathtaking Kano masterpieces—the pride of Japan—in this unprecedented exhibition. Only in Philadelphia. Ink and Gold explores the stunning artistry of the esteemed Kano painters, the most enduring and influential school of painting in Japanese history. Established in the late fifteenth century, the Kano lineage of artists served as painters-in-attendance to Japan's powerful shoguns for four hundred years. The exhibition presents more than 120 works of art spanning the school's long and illustrious history, including large-scale, gold leaf folding screens and sliding doors as well as ink paintings, hanging scrolls, and folding fans. Ink and Gold is the first outside Japan—and the first anywhere since 1979—to so fully examine the Kano painters' legacy.
“ A splendid show, probably the greatest exhibition of Japanese art anywhere in the world this year, and the finest ever devoted to Kano painters.” –Boston Globe Due to their light sensitivity, works in the exhibition will be presented in three rotations, offering multiple opportunities to experience the full depth, scope, and variety of the Kano painters' remarkable achievements. The rotation schedule is February 16–March 15, March 18–April 12, and April 15–May 10, 2015.
The Kano school served as painters-in-attendance to the shoguns, military rulers who lavishly decorated their castles with symbols of power and prestige. Its unique training system instilled in successive generations of artists the techniques and imagery that set the aesthetic standards of their age, forming a common visual language for Japanese painting that still resonates today. To protect the artwork in this exhibition from prolonged light exposure, most will be changed out every four weeks.
The Kano lineage was founded by Kano Masanobu (1434–1530). Originally limited to successive generations of the Kano family, the lineage developed into an academy of professional artists patronized by the Tokugawa shogunate, the military rulers of Japan from 1615 to 1868. Kano painters gained prominence during a period that witnessed extensive building projects after nearly a century of civil wars, which had damaged or destroyed many temples and residences. Powerful military families rebuilt their dwellings as impressive castles and homes, which they then decorated with large-scale paintings by Kano artists. With oversize animals, figures, and landscapes set against a background of lustrous gold leaf, these works are symbolic of the ruling class's aspirations for power and grandeur. With the fall of the shogunate in 1868, Kano artists lost their official patrons. By the end of the century, Japan had emerged on the world stage after nearly three hundred years of self-imposed isolation. Among the ideas and influences introduced to the country were painting styles and formats from the West, which Kano-trained artists used to breathe new life into the tradition.
The exhibition is organized by the Philadelphia Museum of Art and co-organized by the Agency for Cultural Affairs of Japan with the special cooperation of the Tokyo National Museum. International transportation is sponsored by Japan Airlines.
This exhibition is made possible by the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, Toshiba Corporation, Toshiba International Foundation, The Japan Foundation, Blakemore Foundation, The Hollis Endowment for East Asian Art Educational Programming, and The Robert Montgomery Scott Endowment for Exhibitions. Additional generous support has been provided by Maxine S. and Howard H. Lewis, Jeanette Lerman-Neubauer and Joseph Neubauer, Steve and Gretchen Burke, Joan and John Thalheimer, the Estate of J. Welles Henderson, Barbara B. and Theodore R. Aronson, Andrea M. Baldeck, M.D., Marguerite and Gerry Lenfest, Sueyun and Gene Locks, and Cecilia Segawa Seigle Tannenbaum, and by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities. The accompanying publication was supported by The Andrew W. Mellon Fund for Scholarly Publications at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and The Women's Committee of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Felice Fischer, The Luther W. Brady Curator of Japanese Art and Senior Curator of East Asian Art; and Kyoko Kinoshita, Project Associate Curator, East Asian Art