During the Spring 2014 semester, 55 Duke students have been playing Fantasy Collecting, a browser-based game that lets them research and exchange works from the Nasher Museum’s eMuseum. Recently, Katherine Jentleson, the students’ TA and gamemaster, issued the “Up Close & Personal Challenge” which encouraged all Fantasy Collectors to visit a work from their collections in person at the Nasher Museum. As part of this challenge sophomore Ana Corral reflects on her experience.
This morning, on Thursday, March 20th, I visited Ando Hiroshige’s Japanese woodcut print, Lady in Green Kimono (top middle image above). The piece was back in storage, but it is definitely a gem wherever it is displayed. Seeing it under white light, the detail and vibrancy of the colors in this 19th century print were outstanding, I felt like I was looking at the mechanical work of a state-of-the-art color printer. In addition, the seemingly beige background of the woodcut print is a lot darker in person, and it becomes a roasted tan really aiding the contrast of the subject’s green kimono.
My first impression seeing the print was also that it looked a lot smaller than expected. Before going in I hadn’t really paid close attention to the dimensions of the work, 14 x 9 1/8 inches, but to me the fact that this print was smaller than I thought it would be made the detailing more impressive making the smaller outlines stand out more. I chose to visit this piece over the others in my collection because I was intrigued by its mystery. Unlike my other works, I could not find information for this one through eMuseum and part of the game involves attributing artworks. I tried to find the work using various backwards image searches, but only found similar prints—many of them not as detailed and original as Hiroshige’s.
I traveled to Japan with my family in 2008, when I was not even 16 years old. I have to say that although I have grown up in a family that appreciates many forms of art, particularly paintings, I failed to recognize the beauty of Japanese prints at the time. My Fantasy Collection is essentially forming itself, and it’s beginning to acquire a sense of “Asian Fusion.” By selecting this piece to study, I vow to go back to Japan and experience the culture that made this art possible.
Ando Hiroshige, Japanese, Lady in Green Kimono, 19th century. Woodcut on paper, 13 3/4 x 8 3/4 inches (34.9 x 22.2 cm). Collection of the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, Durham, NC, USA. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. W. K. Stars, 1979.54.14.