In an attempt to revive traditional Japanese woodblock prints, artists of the shin hanga
(new print) movement were forced to reconcile approaches to female subjects developed over the previous two centuries with the impact of modernity on both women and the arts in early-twentieth-century Japan. To ensure the contemporary relevancy of their work, the subjects they depicted ranged between deeply conservative and highly provocative conceptions of femininity, with demure, self-effacing geisha representing the former and so-called modern girls, known for their Westernized appearance and morally suspect lifestyles, representing the latter. By retaining production methods honed by their predecessors, they cultivated audiences in Japan and America who appreciated the unique legacies of the Japanese woodblock print tradition. These strategies successfully ensured a place for shin hanga
depictions of women in an environment where new print media and styles imported from the West competed with Japan's most treasured visual traditions. The results of their efforts are amply apparent in this exhibition. With ninety woodblock prints from the Judith and Joseph Barker Collection, The Women of
Shin Hanga showcases two and a half centuries of Japanese print designers' engagement with female subjects.
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