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New display at York Art Gallery – ‘Pictures of the Floating World: Japanese Ukiyo-e Prints’

DATE: 14 April 2021

A new display featuring rarely seen Japanese Ukiyo-e prints alongside much-loved paintings from our collection will go on show in a new Spotlight Series celebrating the reopening of York Art Gallery next month.

‘Pictures of the Floating World: Japanese Ukiyo-e Prints’ will feature prints by prominent Ukiyo-e artists such as Utagawa Hiroshige, along with works by those influenced by Japanese art, such as public favourites Albert Moore and Walter Greaves. This unique display will highlight the significant impact of Japanese art on the western world and the consequential rise of artistic movements such as Aestheticism and Art Nouveau.

Jenny Alexander, Associate Collections Curator at York Art Gallery, said: “We’re thrilled to introduce this new Spotlight Series at York Art Gallery. The designated space will allow us to share a variety of works from our collection, starting with a selection of beautiful Japanese Ukiyo-e prints.

“Ukiyo-e translates as “pictures of the floating world”, referring to the transitory nature of life. Visitors will see delicate prints depicting scenes celebrating everyday life, through themes such as landscape and travel, actors and courtesans, and folk tales.

“Some of these works have not been displayed in over 15 years, so we are thrilled that many visitors will be able to enjoy them for the first time.

“Featuring these exceptional prints alongside firm favourites from our collection will enable visitors to reconnect with the works and view them from a different perspective, which is really exciting.”

The display in the Upper North Gallery is free to visit and is the first of the new Spotlight Series which will periodically change to show highlights from the Gallery’s permanent collections.

This show will delve into the history of the works, explaining why Japanese art became increasingly influential during the 18th and 19th centuries. With the variety of artwork on display, visitors will see how western artists were inspired by the use of line and colour, and how Japanese artists were influenced by western artists’ use of shading and perspective.

‘Pictures of the Floating World: Japanese Ukiyo-e Prints’ is set to open on 28 May 2021.