Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art presents Encountering the Floating World: Ukiyo-e and the West

The Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art at Cornell University presents Encountering the Floating World: Ukiyo-e and the West, an exhibition on view through December 22, 2013.

Katsushika Hokusai (Japanese, 1760–1849), The Red Fuji, #33 from the series Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji, ca. 1825. Color woodblock print. Gift of Robert Kimberly von Reuss-Chenberg.

Katsushika Hokusai (Japanese, 1760–1849), The Red Fuji, #33 from the series Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji, ca. 1825. Color woodblock print. Gift of Robert Kimberly von Reuss-Chenberg.


This exhibition explores the relationship of Japanese prints to modern and contemporary fine and decorative art, and how these important confluences transformed Western art-making practice. Drawn from the Johnson Museum’s collection, artists on view include Hiroshige, Hokusai, Kuniyoshi, Tiffany, Whistler, and many others.

During the nineteenth and twentieth centuries Japanese prints were avidly collected by Americans and Europeans, studied by Western artists working in many different media, and used to teach art in new and innovative ways, to schoolchildren and at higher levels in art schools. The Japanese print aesthetic was rapidly assimilated in painting, glass, and furniture design, an influence that remains strong today.

The exhibition and catalogue are the products of two classes cotaught by curator Nancy Green: a Spring 2013 art history seminar exploring the influence of ukiyo-e on the West, and a Summer 2013 Cornell’s Adult University class which examined the process of creating an exhibition.

This exhibition was cocurated by Nancy Green, the Gale and Ira Drukier Curator of European and American Art, Prints and Drawings, 1800–1945, at the Johnson Museum, with her students, and supported in part by the Japan Foundation, the International Fine Print Dealers Association, and Madeline Noveck, Class of 1958. www.museum.cornell.edu

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