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Writer: Bradley Paul
100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0072; fax (319) 384-0024

Release: Immediate

Japanese prints will be shown in UI Museum of Art Jan. 18-March 23

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The University of Iowa Museum of Art will host "The Woodblock Prints of Ichiyusai Kuniyoshi: Samurai Stories," a retrospective of the popular and prolific Japanese artist, Jan. 18 through March 23.

In conjunction with the exhibition, UI art faculty member Robert Rorex will present a slide lecture on Kuniyoshi and a tour of the exhibition as part of the weekly Perspectives series at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 19.

An opening reception for the museum's new exhibitions will be 5-7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 24, in the museum. The reception will feature "Artist and Critic: A Dialogue," a discussion at 5:30 p.m. between art critic Eleanor Heartney and artist Alan Sonfist, whose work also goes on display Jan. 25.

Kuniyoshi's intricate woodblock prints, produced at the end of the Edo period in the 19th century, reflect the social and artistic turbulence of his time. Japanese society was undergoing radical changes as the ruling Shogun class ended Japan's centuries-old isolationist policies and began a campaign of modernization.

This collection of 22 of Kuniyoshi's prints focuses particularly on warrior or Samurai stories. The genre, which was recognized as a celebration of the heroic Japanese past, became popular following the 1832 imperial decree forbidding the production of prints depicting the morally suspect red-light districts and Noh theatre actresses that were popular among Japanese print-buyers.

Many of Kuniyoshi's prints are in horizontal triptych form, a format particularly suited to action panoramas. Their portrayals of the adventures, battles and romances of the Samurai are evocative of such Western tales as Robin Hood and King Arthur, which were also produced during a period of cultural transition.

The works are on loan from a local private collection.

The UI Museum of Art, located on North Riverside Drive in Iowa City, is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. Admission to the museum is free. Public metered parking is available in UI parking lots across from the museum on Riverside Drive, and adjacent to the UI Alumni Center, which is just north of the museum.