Sunday, March 09, 2008

More Katsukawa family

Another exhibit of the prolific Katsukawa family
went up at the Buckingham Gallery last week
(the only museum space in the A.I.C. unaffected
by the extensive remodeling
project underway)

Katsukawa Shun'ei, 1790,
The Sumo Wrestler Kurogumo Otozo
with the teahouse waitress Naniwa Okita

And I guess I've fallen for the youngest member,
whose space seems a bit deeper
and less severe

and even gently humorous.

(and, like the Japanese,
I love to look at enormous men
and delicate, beautiful women)

Katsukawa Shun'ei, 1794:
"The Actor Nakayama Tomisaburo as
The Maiden at Dojo Temple"

Absolutely beautiful!
(even if its guy
dressing up like a girl,
and if you google the actor's name,
he's not really all that handsome)

Katsukawa Shunsho, 1780:
The Actor Sawamura Sojuro III
in his dressing room in conversation
with Segawa Kikunojo III

Stepping back a decade earlier,
things seem just a bit more formal,
and notice how, again,
only one character
looks at the other while conversing.

And it really seems to be a conversation -

the seated figure is complaining,
and the standing one is consoling.

(and if you look them up,
both of them were super-stars)

Katsukawa Shunsho (1770):
The Warrior Watanabe no Tsuna (923-1023)
fighting the Demon at Roshomon

Moving back yet another decade..
and here is my favorite riff
from Asian fantasy:

the pretty girl
who turns out to be a
voracious demon in disguise.

(the pretty girl's green dress
is flying up towards the
upper left corner)

You would think
that eventually every hero
would learn
to run the other way
whenever a beautiful
young woman appears!


Anonymous marly said...

I like the actor-as-maiden...

I wonder, is there more transformation-in-the-act in Japanese art than in other cultures?

March 13, 2008  
Blogger chris miller said...

It sure seems that way -- and it even occurs in liturgical sculpture -- where, for example, a Shinto deity will appear in disguise as a Bodhisattva.

I can't think of examples from Christian iconography -- but in the Hellenic world we have Zeus in his various disguises.

March 13, 2008  
Blogger Robert said...

The last one reminds me of Disney’s Sorcerer’s Apprentice; couldn't find the girl with the green dress, I must be slipping!

March 13, 2008  

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