Encore!: Japanese Actor Prints from the Permanent Collection

  • May 21, 2011 – Aug 7, 2011
  • The Gregory D. Ivy Gallery
Kiyonaga, "A Scene Played by Actor Sawamura", 1784, woodblock print on
paper, 15 1/8 x 10 1/8 in. Gift of Dr. Lenoir C. Wright, 1998.

Did you know?

Kabuki theaters were places to see and be seen. Kabuki plays provided a day’s worth of entertainment, featuring the latest fashion trends and newest music, in addition to engaging stories performed by famous actors.

During the early 1700s in Japan, a new form of artistic expression known as ukiyo-e—or floating world pictures—developed. Ukiyo-e often depicted the escapist and ephemeral pleasures offered at the time by the entertainment districts of the cities of Edo (present-day Tokyo) and Osaka. Although very different in character, two popular forms of entertainment were Noh and Kabuki theater. While Noh plays demonstrated an economy of expression and limited repertoire, Kabuki theaters were lively places to see and be seen. Kabuki plays provided a day’s worth of entertainment, offering the latest fashion trends and newest music in addition to engaging stories performed by famous actors who held the almost iconic stature that actors today possess.  

Working with woodblock cutters, printers, and publishers, artists in the eighteenth and nineteenth
centuries tapped into the enthusiasm for theater with a wide range of imagery and colorful designs. The diverse actor
prints in this exhibition are drawn from the museum’s noted Lenoir C. Wright Collection. Len Wright, a professor emeritus of History and Political Science at UNCG and a self-taught connoisseur and expert of the ukiyo-e print tradition, began collecting in the 1950s and continued to acquire works until his death in 2003. The Lenoir C. Wright Collection of Japanese Prints is the only collection of its kind and depth in North Carolina, numbering in excess of four hundred and fifty works of art. It is celebrated for its range of subject matter, inclusion of major artists, and condition of the prints.

Funding for this exhibition was made possible through the generous support of the Blue Bell Foundation and Fairway Outdoor Advertising.

Related programs:

Noon @ the Spoon • Tue June 14 @ 12pm

Woodblock Printmaking Workshop • June 29 + 30 @ 10am

Lecture: The World of Japanese Actor Prints • Thu June 30 @ 5:30pm

Film: Floating Weeds • Thu July 28 @ 6:30pm

We have six galleries located on the first and second levels of the museum, view our gallery map.