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Open today: 10:00 to 5:00
The Life of Animals in Japanese Art
June 2 – August 18, 2019
East Building, Concourse Galleries

Unknown Artist, Deer Bearing Symbols of the Kasuga Deities, Nanbokuchō era, 14th century, bronze, Hosomi Museum

This exhibition is no longer on view at the National Gallery.

Artworks representing animals—real or imaginary, religious or secular—span the full breadth and splendor of Japanese artistic production. As the first exhibition devoted to the subject, The Life of Animals in Japanese Art covers 17 centuries (from the fifth century to the present day) and a wide variety of media—sculpture, painting, lacquerwork, ceramics, metalwork, textile, and the woodblock print. A selection of some 300 works, drawn from Japanese and American public and private collections, includes seven that are designated as Important Cultural Property by the Japanese government. The artists represented range from Sesson Shūkei, Itō Jakuchū, Soga Shōhaku, Katsushika Hokusai, Utagawa Kuniyoshi, to Okamoto Tarō, Kusama Yayoi, Issey Miyake, Nara Yoshitomo, and Murakami Takashi.

Covering 18,000 square feet in the East Building Concourse, the exhibition is organized into thematic sections that explore the various roles animals have played in the art of Japan. A fully illustrated catalog is published in association with Princeton University Press.

The exhibition is curated by Robert T. Singer, curator and department head, Japanese art, LACMA, and Masatomo Kawai, director, Chiba City Museum of Art, in consultation with a team of esteemed of Japanese art historians.

Extended Hours: From August 3 through the exhibition’s final day on August 18, The Life of Animals in Japanese Art will stay open late until 8 p.m. During the extended hours, visitors can learn more during pop-up talks at 6 and 7 p.m. by Gallery educators, explore the exhibition with two engaging audio tours, and browse the Gallery's East Shop, which features a full suite of merchandise inspired by the exhibition.

Organization: The exhibition is coorganized by the National Gallery of Art, Washington, The Japan Foundation, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, with special cooperation from the Tokyo National Museum

Sponsors: The exhibition is made possible through the generous support of the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation.

The Robert and Mercedes Eichholz Foundation also kindly provided a leadership gift for this exhibition.

Additional funding is provided by The Exhibition Circle of the National Gallery of Art and the Annenberg Fund for the International Exchange of Art.

Additional support is provided by All Nippon Airways (ANA).

The exhibition is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities

The exhibition is part of Japan 2019, an initiative to promote Japanese culture in the United States.

Passes: Admission is always free and passes are not required

Other venues: Los Angeles County Museum of Art, September 22–December 8, 2019

Exhibition Feature

Related Events

Film Series
Animals in Japanese Cinema
June 13–July 28
East Building Auditorium

Community Events
Community Weekend
June 22, 23
East Building

Gallery Talks
The Life of Animals in Japanese Art
June – August: Various Dates & Times
East Building Atrium

Japanese Language Tour
June – July: Various Dates & Times
East Building Atrium

Roosters, Rabbits, and Monkeys: Animals of the Zodiac
June & August: Various Dates & Times
East Building Atrium

Dragons, Tigers, and Phoenix: Auspicious Animals
June – July: Various Dates & Times
East Building Atrium

Butterflies, Fish, and Puppies: Animals and the Four Seasons
July – August: Various Dates & Times
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Lectures
Introduction to the Exhibition—The Life of Animals in Japanese Art
June 2 at 2:00
East Building Auditorium

The Roles and Representations of Animals in Japanese Art and Culture
June 7 at 10:30
East Building Auditorium

Audio and Video

The Roles and Representations of Animals in Japanese Art and Culture, Part 6—Art, Science, and the Representation of Nature
Audio, Released: July 9, 2019, (42:32 minutes)
The Roles and Representations of Animals in Japanese Art and Culture, Part 1—The War of the Twelve Animals: Anthropomorphosis and Allegory in Medieval Japan
Audio, Released: July 9, 2019, (32:32 minutes)
The Roles and Representations of Animals in Japanese Art and Culture, Part 2—A Compassionate Heart for Pitiful Beasts: Animals in Japanese Religions
Audio, Released: July 9, 2019, (34:08 minutes)
The Roles and Representations of Animals in Japanese Art and Culture, Part 4—East Meets West: The Introduction of Exotic Animals to Japan
Audio, Released: July 9, 2019, (38:00 minutes)
The Roles and Representations of Animals in Japanese Art and Culture, Part 3—Bookish Beasts: Reading Animals in Japanese Illustrated Fiction
Audio, Released: July 9, 2019, (32:40 minutes)
The Roles and Representations of Animals in Japanese Art and Culture, Part 5—Let the Animals Speak: The Language of Animals in Japan
Audio, Released: July 9, 2019, (35:33 minutes)
The Roles and Representations of Animals in Japanese Art and Culture, Part 7—Animals in Contemporary Japanese Art and Fashion
Audio, Released: July 9, 2019, (29:55 minutes)
Introduction to the Exhibition—The Life of Animals in Japanese Art
Video, Released: June 25, 2019, (52:53 minutes)
Introduction to the Exhibition—The Life of Animals in Japanese Art
Audio, Released: June 25, 2019, (53:15 minutes)
Press Event: The Life of Animals in Japanese Art
Video, Released: June 5, 2019, (48:09 minutes)
Press Event: The Life of Animals in Japanese Art
Audio, Released: June 5, 2019, (48:09 minutes)
The Life of Animals in Japanese Art Promo
Video, Released: June 2, 2019, (00:15 minutes)