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Life Is a Highway: Prints of Japans Tokaido Road

Sekino Jun'ichiro, Okabe, 1973, ink and color on paper, Museum purchase, funds provided by Maggi McKay in honor of David Cofrin and Mickey Singer; Kathleen M. Axline Acquisition Endowment; The David A. Cofrin Fund for Asian Art; friends of the Harn Museum; and by exchange, gift of Dr. and Mrs. David A. Cofrin.

Sekino Jun'ichiro, Okabe, 1973, ink and color on paper, Museum purchase, funds provided by Maggi McKay in honor of David Cofrin and Mickey Singer; Kathleen M. Axline Acquisition Endowment; The David A. Cofrin Fund for Asian Art; friends of the Harn Museum; and by exchange, gift of Dr. and Mrs. David A. Cofrin.

Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art

This spring, the Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art at the University of Florida will exhibit a show that explores the history of Japan’s Tokaido Road. “Life Is a Highway” includes a selection of more than 100 woodblock prints that depict the history of Tokaido Road-the most heavily traveled route in pre-WWII Japan. Works by such notable Japanese printmakers as Utagawa Hiroshige, Utagawa Kuniyoshi, Utagawa Kunisada and Sekino Jun’uchiro will be included in the exhibition, which spans more than a century of Japanese printmaking traditions.

“For more than 100 years, the Tokaido Road was the main artery of the Japanese state, a point of convergence for the forces of commerce, government and culture that shaped the nation’s pre-modern era,” said Jason Steuber, Cofrin Curator of Asian Art. “Life Is a Highway” will provide visitors with a wide range of artists’ perspectives on the Tokaido, bringing to life stories of classical literary and theatrical subjects, dangerous liaisons, tales of the supernatural, samurai legends, religious pilgrimages and memorable characters from all walks of life. The exhibition will also examine how the prints reflected the modernization of the nation over the 19th and 20th centuries.”

The exhibition is being organized geographically according to the 53 traditional wayfaring stations of the Tokaido Road. A selection of Japanese textiles and objects will complement and add context to the prints on display. “Life Is a Highway” is on view from May 6 through August 17, 2014.

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