Ateneum continues its anniversary year with an exhibition presenting coloured woodcuts by Hokusai (1760–1849) and Hiroshige (1797–1858), two of the best known landscape artists of Japan’s Edo period. Among the most precious works in the exhibition is Hokusai’s The Great Wave (1830–32) which has become one of the icons of Japanese art. All prints in the exhibition come from the Yasusaburo Hara Collection in Tokyo, now on loan outside Japan for the first time. The exhibition is curated by Ateneum’s Chief Curator Heikki Malme.
The exhibition Hokusai & Hiroshige. On a Journey to Edo takes visitors on a journey from Kyoto to Edo (present-day Tokyo). There were two roads between these cities, the Tokaido and Kisokaido. Hiroshige has depicted landscapes along these roads in his series The Fifty-Three Stations of the Tokaido Road (c. 1831–34) and The Sixty-Nine Stations of the Kisokaido Road (c. 1834–42), while Hokusai’s most famous series presents Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji (c. 1830–35). Japan’s sacred mountain Fuji as well as the landscapes and nature along the two roads also feature in the exhibition design and architecture, taking the visitor through different seasons and weather towards Edo and the bustle of the city. One of the exhibition rooms is reserved for works from Hiroshige’s series One Hundred Famous Views of Edo (c. 1856–58).
The woodcuts of Hokusai and Hiroshige were an inspiration to Finnish Golden Age artists in turn-of-the-century Paris, and now they are exhibited for the first time in this scale in Finland. All the nearly 200 works in the exhibition come from the Yasusaburo Hara Collection in Tokyo. This collection is exceptional, for it comprises complete sets of all those series from which the works now seen in Ateneum have been selected. Being sensitive to light and only allowed on display for a certain period of time, another set of woodcuts with the same themes will be exhibited from 21 October onwards. The gems of the selection, Hokusai’s The Great Wave, Red Fuji and Thundershower beneath the Summit (series c. 1830–35), however, are on view throughout the exhibition.
The last room in the exhibition presents Japanese tools and the making of woodcuts. One of the few master block-cutters of our time, Shoichi Kitamura will give a demonstration in a woodcut workshop set up in the exhibition room on Ateneum’s events day on 4 October.
There is a 192-page, richly illustrated catalogue published to complement the exhibition, with articles on the life and work of Hokusai and Hiroshige as well as the development of the Japanese woodcut and its production process. Many of the works featured in the exhibition are presented with pictures. The catalogue is edited by Heikki Malme, and it is available from Ateneum’s bookshop and web shop (sold out).