Untamed Beauty: Tigers in Japanese Art

December 18, 2007 – March 16, 2008 Organized by the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, this exhibition draws upon the collection of Harriet and Edson Spencer to examine how Japanese artists have portrayed one of the most awe-inspiring creatures of the animal kingdom, the tiger. While tigers were not native to Japan, the Japanese knew of them through reports, portrayals in art and hides brought from nearby China and Korea where the big cats did live and where they had acquired religious and cosmological significance that was passed onto Japan. Many important artists …

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A Pride of Lions: More Untamed Beauty in Japanese Art

December 18, 2007 – March 16, 2008 While the tiger as a motif in Japanese art may seem unusual in view of the absence of suitable models from Japan, at least this creature’s habitat existed on the nearby East Asian mainland. The lion, on the other hand, was a native of far-off Africa, yet it figured more prominently in Japanese art—if in a more idealized form—than did the tiger. Knowledge of the lion entered Japan more than a thousand years ago when the Chinese practice of using sculpted lions as palace guardian …

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Kuruma: The Wheel in Japanese Life and Art

June 17 – September 21, 2008 The invention of the wheel has been considered one of the great milestones in the history of mankind, particularly because of its facilitation of long-distance transportation. In Japan the wheel has had a different history than it has in other regions of the world. While in the past most travel was on foot, ironically today, Japan dominates world automobile markets. This exhibition looks at the wheel and wheeled vehicles in Japanese history and examines their impact on Japanese civilization. Featured are actual Japanese wheels, including waterwheels …

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