15.06.2010 to 17.10.2010
The Museum of Asian Art's East Asian Collection owns some 485 Chinese New Year prints originating from the first half of the 20th century, given to the museum by collectors Charlotte and Gerd Wallenstein. Between 1940 and 1947, the couple lived in the north-eastern city of Tianjin, where they amassed this collection of eye-catching works.
Although Chinese New Year images, in the form of popular woodcuts, were produced in sizeable numbers, they were nevertheless considered to be decorative art and, as such, were taken down and replaced from year to year in Chinese households.
Extensive collections such as this one, therefore, are rare and of great value - and this particular, near encyclopaedic collection is no exception. The prints afford visitors an exciting insight into the various aspects of traditional Chinese everyday culture. Religion, popular beliefs, values, customs and celebrations as well as popular tales and operas are all reflected in the multifarious depictions gathered here.
Time and again the museum has hosted exhibitions showcasing a particular facet of the rich store of items within its own collection. Once again, the publication of a catalogue of these woodcuts, edited by Ellen Johnston Laing, an acclaimed expert on popular Chinese prints, provides the perfect opportunity to hold such a show. The book is due for release in summer, published by Nicolai Verlag.