Originally published on metropolis.co.jp on September 2009
To what extent do the fabulous depictions of kabuki actors in ukiyo-e prints actually resemble the performers themselves? And how were kabuki and other traditional arts shaped by encroaching Westernization in the 19th century? “Genealogy of Famous Actors: Kabuki in the Late Edo Period, the Meiji Period and the Present” seeks to answer these questions by displaying prints of kabuki stars alongside vintage photographs. The gorgeous works of artists like Utagawa Toyokuni III (pictured) and Toyohara Kunichika provide evidence that, much as ukiyo-e was broadening its palette with Western pigments, kabuki actors were updating their performances with new stage techniques and costumes.
Ukiyo-e Ota Memorial Museum of Art
Genealogy of Famous Actors: Kabuki in the Late Edo Period, the Meiji Period and the Present. Until Sep 26, ¥200 (elem, MS)/¥500 (HS, univ)/¥700 (adult). 1-10-10 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku. Tel: 03-5777-8600. Open Tue-Sun 10:30am-5:30pm, closed Mon. Nearest stn: Harajuku, Omotesando exit. www.ukiyoe-ota-muse.jp