Meiji Modern: Fifty Years of New Japan

March 21–June 9, 2024

A tall vase decorated with peacock feathers

This landmark exhibition takes a fresh look at the art of Japan’s Meiji era (1868–1912), four remarkable decades that propelled the country into the modern era.

Comprising more than 130 artworks—including paintings, prints, photographs, sculptural works, and objects in various media, such as enamel, lacquer, embroidery, and textiles—the exhibition presents some of the finest examples of Meiji period artworks in American collections, both public and private. Organized around time-honored Japanese motifs, such as the sea and nature, Buddhist deities, and mythical animals, Meiji Modern highlights these themes as they are transformed with the introduction of newly imported techniques, materials, and audiences. The exhibition historically situates the period and transports the public to the latter 19th century—a time of political upheaval, imperial expansion, economic transformation and social unrest worldwide.

Meiji Modern emphasizes modern Japanese artists’ engagement with both European and Asian trends and the concurrent invention of “classical Japan” as a category. Showcasing Japan as a case of nonwestern modernity, the exhibition also addresses issues surrounding art and identity resonant with audiences today.

Exhibition catalogue

Meiji Modern: Fifty Years of New Japan
by Chelsea Foxwell and Bradley M. Bailey
Hardcover, 272 Pages, 11.30 x 9.25 in, 275 color illustrations.

This exhibition catalogue takes a fresh look at the art of Japan’s Meiji era (1868–1912), through a vivid selection of approximately 175 objects drawn from early public and private collections across the United States, including newly discovered prints, photographs, textiles, paintings, and craft objects. 

Available fall 2023 from the Japanese Art Society of America, distributed by Yale University Press

Additional resources

Top: Watanabe Nobukazu (1872–1944), Bronze Statue of SaigōTakamori in Ueno Park, Tokyo, 1899. Ukiyo-e woodblock-printed vertical ōban triptych, ink and color on paper, overall: 14 1/2 × 28 in. (36.8 × 71.1 cm), each sheet: 14 1/2 × 9 3/4 in. (36.8 × 24.8 cm). Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, University of Oregon, Eugene, Gift of Irwin Lavenberg, The Lavenberg Collection of Japanese Prints, 2021:36.453a–c.

Above: Kawade Shibatarō (1856–1921), vase with design of peacock feathers, ca. 1900. Cloisonné enamel with silver mounts and wires, 13 3/8 × 5 1/4 × 5 1/4 in. (33.97 × 13.34 × 13.34 cm). Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Gift from the Japanese Cloisonné Enamels Collection of Donald K. Gerber and Sueann E. Sherry, M.2010.197.3. Photography © Museum Associates/LACMA.