27 March until 26 July 2020
Copy & Paste
Repetition in Japanese Imagery

In Japanese culture, repetition and copying are regarded as the basis for artistic creation. Far removed from the paradigm of originality in European modernism, in Japanese art imitation and duplication are a matter of course. These acts are understood as paying homage to early masters and are openly practiced as age-old pictorial tradi-tions. The Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg (MKG) is fortunate to have an outstanding collection of Japa-nese painting and graphic art, which allows viewers to “peer over the shoulders” of these artists. In the exhibition Copy & Paste.
Repetition in Japanese Pictures, over 100 sketches, color woodcuts, hanging scrolls, books, and screens from the East Asia Collection provide insights into the foundations of Japanese visual culture in the late Edo (1603–1868) and Meiji (1868–1912) periods. Based on these works, the show traces the creation, further development, distribution, and adaptation of pictorial motifs in Japanese culture to this day. Featured are outstanding Japanese woodcut mas-ters such as Katsushika Hokusai (1760–1849), Katsukawa Shunkō (1743–1812), Toyohara Kunichika (1835–1900), Utagawa Hiroshige (1797–1858), and Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1798–1861), along with important nineteenth-century painters including Kawanabe Kyōsai (1831–1889) and Suzuki Kiitsu (1796–1858). The works of these artists were a seminal influence for European Impressionists and Expressionists around 1900 and still inspire artists worldwide today. A prime example is Hokusai’s The Great Wave off Kanazawa (1830–31), which has been adapted artistically countless times and reproduced on a massive scale on postcards, mugs, and T-shirts. Works by such diverse artists as Higuchi Akihiro (b. 1969), Yokoo Tadanori (b. 1936), and Horst Janssen (1929–1995) on view in the exhibition demonstrate the enduring impact of famous Japanese colored woodcuts and paintings.

The exhibition is sponsored by the Zeit-Stiftung Ebelin und Gerd Bucerius for the scholarly indexing of the Collection East Asia.

Katsushika Hokusai (1760–1849), The Great Wave off Kanagawa (from the series The 36 Views of Mount Fuji), 1830–31, color woodblock, paint on paper, 25 x 37,3 cm, MKG, Public Domain