Kiyochika's Tokyo: Master of Modern Melancholy (1876-1881)

New to Visualizing Cultures in 2016

Based on an exhibition, "Kiyochika: Master of the Night," that ran March 29–July 27, 2014 at the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., this unit by curator James T. Ulak both preserves and reworks the window Kiyochika's prints provide on Japan's movement towards modernity. With the Meiji Restoration in 1868, Kobayashi Kiyochika (1847-1915), who had fought on the side of the defeated Tokugawa shogun, retreated to the provinces for a hiatus of six years. He finally returned to the capital in 1874. Between 1876 and 1881, he produced an unusual series of woodblock prints titled “Famous Places of Tokyo.” These elegant views convey a sense of both change and loss strikingly different from the brightly colored prints of his contemporaries that celebrated Westernization in all its forms.

James T. Ulak, Curator, Author
John W. Dower, Editor
Ellen Sebring, Creative Director
Andrew Burstein, Coding and Interactive Designs