Art Diary

Her Brush: Japanese Women Artists from the Fong-Johnstone Collection

4 November 2022

From 17th-century ceramics to 20th-century works in pen and ink, more than 550 works on show at Denver Art Museum reveal how women artists in Japan have practised their art in spite of the country’s strict gender conventions (13 November–13 May 2023). Drawn from the collection of John Fong and Colin Johnstone, recently donated to the DAM, the works include many that have never been seen in public before. With a focus on the ‘Three Perfections’ of Japanese art – painting, poetry and calligraphy – the exhibition highlights the formal education that Japanese artists received – as well as the artists who set out to subvert this training. The 17th-century painter Ono no Ozu, for instance, carved out her own individual style in charming works such as The Deified Sugawara Michizane Crossing to China (Toto Tenjin) (early 1600s). A later section of the exhibition reveals how painting traditions were often passed down within the family; it includes delicate works by Kiyohara Yukinobu, a painter of the famous Kano School of Japanese painting, such as her delicate pen-and-ink drawing of The Goddess Benzaiten and her Lute (Biwa) (c. 1660–80). Find out more from the Denver Art Museum’s website.

Breaking Waves in the Pines (Shoto) (late 1900s), Murase Myodo. Photo: © Denver Art Museum

The Deified Sugawara Michizane Crossing to China (Toto Tenjin) (early 1600s), Ono no Ozu. Photo: © Denver Art Museum

The Nun Ryonen (Ryonen-ni) from Famous Women of Past and Present (Kokon meifuden) (1864), Utagawa Kunisada. Photo: © Denver Art Museum.