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Exhibition | A Third Gender: Beautiful Youths in Japanese Prints

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on May 9, 2016

Press release (via Art Daily) for the exhibition now on view at ROM:

A Third Gender: Beautiful Youths in Japanese Prints
Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, 7 May — 27 November 2016
Japan Society, New York, 10 March — 11 June 2017

Curated by Asato Ikeda

Suzuki Harunobu, Mitate-e of a Poem by Saigyō Hōshi. 1767/68 (Ontario: ROM, Sir Edmund Walker Collection 926.18.113)

Suzuki Harunobu, Mitate-e of a Poem by Saigyō Hōshi. 1767/68 (Ontario: ROM, Sir Edmund Walker Collection 926.18.113)

The ground-breaking A Third Gender: Beautiful Youths in Japanese Prints opened at the Royal Ontario Museum on Saturday, May 7, 2016. Featuring stunning woodblock prints, samurai armor, a kimono, screen paintings, lacquerwork, and illustrated books, the exhibition explores issues of gender and tells a pivotal story of sexuality in Japan’s Edo period (1603–1868).

A Third Gender is the first North American display on wakashu. Four hundred years ago in Japan, a complex social structure existed in which gender involved more than a person’s biological sex. Age, position in the sexual hierarchy, and appearance were also considered. Fundamental to this structure were youths termed wakashu. Neither ‘adult man’ nor ‘woman’—each a separate gender—wakashu were objects of desire for both, playing distinct social and sexual roles. Constituting a third gender, they are visually represented in these Edo period woodblock prints.

The exhibition features approximately 60 woodblock prints (ukiyo-e), visually representing wakashu. Many never before displayed, they are from the ROM’s Japanese art collection—the largest in Canada. Produced since the 8th century in Japan, woodblock prints, created collaboratively by a designer, engraver, printer, and publisher, became popular in the 17th century. The exhibition’s prints were created in early 18th to mid-19th centuries by major ukiyo-e masters including Okumura Masanobu, Suzuki Harunobu, and Kitagawa Utamaro.

A Third Gender is curated by Dr. Asato Ikeda, Assistant Professor of Art History at Fordham University, New York and the ROM’s 2014–16 Bishop White Postdoctoral Fellow of Japanese Art and Culture. In Ikeda’s words, “A Third Gender invites ROM visitors to think differently about gender and sexuality and we anticipate the exhibition will be of interest to a diverse audience.”

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From Brill:

Joshua Mostow, Asato Ikeda, and Ryoko Matsuba, A Third Gender: Beautiful Youth in Japanese Edo-period Prints, 1600–1868 (Leiden: Hotei, 2016), 215 pages, ISBN 978-0888545145, $50.

917bXS7PQALFor the first time outside Japan, A Third Gender examines the fascination with wakashu in Edo-period culture and their visual representation in art, demonstrating how they destabilize the conventionally held model of gender binarism. The volume will reproduce, in color, over a hundred works, mostly woodblock prints and illustrated books from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries produced by a number of designers ranging from such well-known artists as Okumura Masanobu, Suzuki Harunobu, Kitagawa Utamaro, and Utagawa Kunisada, to lesser known artists such as Shigemasa, Eishi, and Eiri. A Third Gender is based on the collection of the Royal Ontario Museum, which houses the largest collection of Japanese art in Canada, including more than 2500 woodblock prints.

Joshua S. Mostow is Professor of Asian Studies at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver. Asato Ikeda is Assistant Professor of Art History at Fordham University, New York and the ROM’s 2014–16 Bishop White Postdoctoral Fellow of Japanese Art and Culture.

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P R O G R A M  S E R I E S

Elements of Sake
3 May 2016
Join Michael Tremblay for an introduction and guided tasting of sake, designed to demystify and engage. This special evening will explore the basics of sake, its production and history, and the culture that created it.

Japanese Visual Culture: Gender and Sexual Diversity
12 May 2016
Asato Ikeda, the curator of A Third Gender, will examine the role of male youths in Edo-period Japan and how this gender and sexuality system can be understood from a contemporary North American perspective.

It’s Complicated: Gender Ambiguity in Early-Mondern Japan
7 June 2016
Explore the roles of gender, sexuality, and erotic art in Japanese culture with internationally renowned scholar Joshua Mostow. Please note this lecture will contain explicit images and discussions of a sexual nature, and is not recommended for those under the age of 18.

Lost in Translation? Gender and Sexuality Across Time and Cultures
21 June 2016
How do we understand representations of sexuality, including same sex sexuality, across different historical and cultural moments without imposing contemporary norms? Join our panel as they explore concepts surrounding our exhibition A Third Gender.

The Art of Japan
16 October 2016
Experience the fundamentals of Japanese art in this in-depth workshop lead by ROM Educator George Hewson. This full day workshop includes a guided visit of the exhibition A Third Gender and lunch.

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Note (added 14 March 2017) — The original posting did not include the Japan Society as a venue.

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Jonathan Bober Named Senior Curator of Prints and Drawing at NGA

Posted in museums by Editor on May 9, 2016

Press release (6 May 2016) from the NGA:

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Jonathan Bober in the prints and drawings study room at the National Gallery of Art, Washington (Photo by Division of Imaging and Visual Services)

Jonathan Bober has been named the National Gallery of Art’s Andrew W. Mellon Senior Curator of Prints and Drawings. Bober’s appointment becomes effective on October 1, 2016, when he succeeds Andrew Robison, who retires from the position on September 30, 2016. Bober will oversee the continuing work and growth of the Gallery’s three departments of prints and drawings that Robison cultivated and nurtured for more than 40 years.

“Jonathan Bober is a brilliant curator and connoisseur with an outstanding track record of exhibitions and publications, and a remarkable degree of knowledge about both prints and drawings,” said Earl A. Powell III, director, National Gallery of Art. “We are delighted that he is assuming this prestigious role in our curatorial ranks.”

Since 2011 Bober has served as curator and head of old master prints at the National Gallery of Art and has played a very active role across the institution, from key acquisitions to mentoring emerging scholars. Bober led the acquisition of some 2,000 prints by purchase, gift, and promised gift, most notably 18th-century Venetian and 19th-century Italian, making the Gallery’s holdings the most significant in the U.S. During his tenure at the Gallery, Bober organized four Gallery exhibitions: The Baroque Genius of Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione (2012), Northern Mannerist Prints from the Kainen Collection (2013), From Neoclassicism to Futurism: Italian Prints and Drawings, 1800–1925 (2014), and Recent Acquisitions of Italian Renaissance Prints: Ideas Made Flesh (2015). Since 2015, Bober has been the Gallery’s curatorial liaison to the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts (CASVA).

The Gallery’s division of old master and modern prints and drawings, with nine curators, oversees one of the nation’s finest collections of works on paper. In total, the Gallery’s collection of prints, drawings, and illustrated books contains approximately 121,000 Western European and American works on paper and vellum dating from the 11th century to the present day.

Bober came to the Gallery in 2011 from the Blanton Museum at the University of Texas at Austin, where he served as a curator since 1987, first as curator of prints and drawings; from 1998 as curator of prints, drawings, and European painting; and from 2010 as senior curator of European art. Prior to his work at the Blanton Museum, he was curatorial associate in the print department of the Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, from 1984 to 1987, where he completed his graduate work with Sydney Freedberg and Henri Zerner.

Over the course of Bober’s career his exhibitions and publications have focused on old master paintings and old master and modern prints and drawings. They include Luca Cambiaso, 1527–1585, the international loan exhibition of the paintings, drawings, and prints of Luca Cambiaso and his Genoese contemporaries, (co-organized with the Palazzo Ducale, Genoa; Austin, September 2006–January 2007, and Genoa, March–July 2007), and Capolavori della Suida-Manning Collection (co-organized with Giulio Bora, Museo Civico, Cremona, October 2001–April 2002). In addition to catalogs of the Italian drawings in the Fogg Art Museum (1988) and Blanton Museum (2001), and numerous exhibition catalogs at the Blanton, Bober is the author of many catalog essays and scholarly articles appearing in such periodicals as Master Drawings, The Burlington Magazine, and Arte Lombarda. These concern painting and drawing as well as printmaking in 16th- and 17th-century Milan, Cremona, Venice, and Genoa.

Bober acquired for the Blanton Museum 11,000 of its 18,000 works (most with private support), including the extraordinary Suida-Manning Collection of old master paintings and drawings, art critic Leo Steinberg’s extensive collection of old master prints, and many outstanding individual works in the field, including modern and contemporary. In addition to organizing exhibitions from the Blanton Museum’s collection, such as Prints of the Ancien Régime (1996) and The Language of Prints (2008), Bober maintained a rotation of prints and drawings from the permanent collection in seven dedicated galleries. He helped develop the design of the new Blanton Museum and oversaw the creation of a new center for prints and drawings, which opened in April 2006.

Andrew Robison joined the curatorial staff of the National Gallery of Art in 1974, becoming Senior Curator in 1983 and A. W. Mellon Senior Curator in 1991. Over four decades Robison has curated dozens of exhibitions on art from the 15th through the 20th centuries, especially drawings and prints by early German artists, Rembrandt, 18th-century Venetian artists, German expressionists, and Pablo Picasso, as well as the multimedia exhibitions Art for the Nation: Gifts in Honor of the 50th Anniversary of the National Gallery of Art (1991), The Glory of Venice: Art in the Eighteenth Century (1994–1995), Ernst Ludwig Kirchner: 1880–1938 (2003), and Albrecht Dürer: Master Drawings, Watercolors, and Prints from the Albertina (2013).