Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Japanese Kabuki Actor Prints

Though many people in the West are familiar with ukiyo-e, or the “Floating World” woodblock prints of Japan’s Edo period - few are familiar with shini-e. Literally meaning “death pictures”, shini-e art prints focus on the subject of death, particularly as it was portrayed in the theater by kabuki actors. These dark prints are filled with seppuku (ritual suicide), specters, evil spirits, phantoms, demons, and gallant sword fighters. They are also often memorial portraits of famous kabuki actors who passed away. The Stanford University Cantor Arts Center in California is presenting an exhibition of around 30 rare shini-e woodblock prints, from the collection of Stanford Professor Emeritus Albert Dien, a collector and expert in the little-known genre. The exhibit opened on April 13th, 2005, and runs until July 24th, 2005. For more information on the art of shini-e, or for details on seeing the exhibit, visit the Cantor Arts Center web page. (posted by M.)