Saturday, April 14, 2012

hokusai, jakuchu, and winged spirits at the freer/sackler galleries and national gallery, washington, d.c.

There's a lot of great art this month in Washington, D.C. as part of the annual cherry blossom festivities. While the blossoms have quickly, prematurely come and gone, the art will remain, at least for a little while longer. One such exhibit includes Japanese master Katsushika Hokusai's "Thirty-six views of Mount Fuji" series of prints, on view at the Sackler Gallery up through June 17, 2012. When I went last weekend, the gallery was jam-packed and photography was not permitted. So if you're in the area, take this rare opportunity to see the entire series of prints together in one setting before the exhibit ends. On a brief side note, if you do go and find the crowd slightly harrowing, as I did, take a walk directly across the hall to check out the "Art of Darkness" Japanese Mezzotint exhibit, which had very few viewers, at least when I went, thus adding to the sublime, quiet nature of the work. 

At the connecting Freer Gallery, you'll find more Hokusai works in the form of his giant screens (until July 29, 2012) and more intimate paintings and drawings (until June 24, 2012). While this Hokusai exhibit in particular wasn't quite as extensive as the one hosted at Freer/Sackler about six years ago, these works still have to be seen in person to be believed. 

Over at the National Gallery of Art, West wing, was a pleasant surprise exhibit that, I have to admit, surpassed even the Hokusai shows, called Colorful Realm: Japanese Bird-and-Flower Paintings by Itō Jakuchū. I had only briefly encountered some of Jakuchū's work through photographs, but to see this absolutely incredible collection of bird and flower paintings on 30 scrolls, in person was spellbinding. Again, as with Hokusai's "Thirty-six Views..." show, there was no photography permitted, and the space was packed with viewers wall-to-wall.  The book/catalogue was unfortunately sold-out, however the National Gallery will be getting a new shipment in by early May. Can't wait for mine to arrive! The exhibit itself won't be around for long unfortunately, ending on April 29, 2012. Not to be missed!

Back over to the Freer Gallery for more amazing Asian art (and more birds), this time in the form of "Winged Spirits: Birds in Chinese Painting", which ends August 5th, 2012. Never mind the crummy photos below and go see these magnificent ancient works in the flesh.  

On one last side note, in addition to the many amazing Asian art exhibits going on currently in D.C., there will be a "100% Miyazaki!" movie marathon on Sunday, April 15, appropriately, at Freer/Sackler from 11AM - 9PM. If you haven't seen a Miyazaki film on the big screen, as I was fortunate enough to have done with both "Spirited Away" and "Princess Mononoke", now is your chance! Special guest Helen McCarthy, author of "Hayao Miyazaki: Master of Japanese Animation" will be there presenting the films and signing books.