Kabuki theatre was a focal point of urban life in 18th-century Edo (Tokyo). Performing lurid tales of love and infamy, Kabuki actors found fame for their exaggerated gestures and facial expressions –most particularly the Mie, a dramatic pose struck at the climax of the action, often in the form of a sensational scowl. Unsurprisingly, these actors became a popular subject for printmakers, as this exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago amply demonstrates. Drawn from more than 700 prints by the Katsukawa School in the museum’s collection, the display runs in two rotations – from 15 January–10 April, and from 16 April–26 June. Find out more from the Art Institute of Chicago’s website.
Preview below | View Apollo’s Art Diary here
The Actor Ichikawa Danzo III as Shoki the Demon-Queller in the play “Date Moyo Kumo ni Imazuma” (“Dandyish Design: Lightning Amid Clouds”) (c. 1768), Katsukawa Shunko I. Art Institute of Chicago
The Actor Nakamura Nakazo I as Osada no Taro in the play “Ima o Sakari Suehiro Genji (The Genji Clan Now at Its Zenith)” (c. 1768), Katsukawa Shunko I. Art Institute of Chicago
The Actor Ichikawa Monnosuke II in an Unidentified Role (c. 1785), Katsukawa Shunko I. Art Institute of Chicago
The Actor Sanogawa Ichimatsu III in a Female Role, Possibly Masago Gozen in the Play Keisei Azuma Kagami (A Courtesan’s “Mirror of the East”) (?), Performed at the Nakamura Theater in the Second Month, 1788 (c. 1788), Katsukawa Shunko I. Art Institute of Chicago
Half-Length Portrait of the Actor Onoe Matsusuke I as Retired Emperor Sutoku in Act Three of the play Kitekaeru Nishiki no Wakayaka (Returning Home in Splendor), Performed at the Nakamura Theater from the First Day of the Eleventh Month, 1780 (c. 1780), Katsukawa Shunko I. Art Institute of Chicago