Ito Shinsui - Nostalgia and Modernity

  • 17 Sept 2016 - 8 Jan 2017

    Itō Shinsui (1898–1972) is considered one of Japan’s best-known twentieth-century graphic artists. His prints, whether of beautiful women in kimonos, or of picturesque landscapes, have a simultaneously exotic and familiar feel. The motifs evoke a sense of longing for a distant world, not yet touched by industrialisation. Yet, the strong graphic impact and the high realism of the designs testify to a familiarity with modern art imported from the West.

    The early decades of the twentieth century were a time of major upheaval in Japan. As the country began to modernise, imported Western ideologies clashed with traditional Japanese values. In the arts, too, the question “Is it possible to be simultaneously Japanese and modern?” was of eminent importance. 

    Born in Tokyo in 1898, Itō Shinsui grew up during this time of change. Although some Japanese artists were already being trained according to western methods at the turn of the 20th century, Shinsui entered into a traditional master-pupil relationship. More than two thirds of his prints are “portraits of beautiful women”, characterised by technical perfection, clear compositions and an otherworldly, elegant form of expression. Almost all the women in Shinsui’s prints are wearing traditional Japanese clothes and hairstyles corresponding with the traditional ideal of a woman.

    Itō Shinsui was also an excellent landscape painter. Departing from the iconography employed since the fifteenth century in painting and later in woodblock prints by masters like Hiroshige, Shinsui’s interpretations were refreshingly new and based on his personal experience of nature. This approach was closer to the principles of Western art than those of the East Asian visual tradition, in which the image of a landscape conveyed in classical poetry was more important than its actual appearance.

    For conservation reasons, the exhibition will be shown in two parts; all works will be replaced on 14 November 2016.

    The exhibition and catalogue are the result of a cooperation between Museum Rietberg Zürich and the Taiyo no Hikari Foundation, Japan, which manages the estate of Itō Shinsui. The main sponsor is KK Sonnenschein Stiftung, Zurich.  

    Media Reviews

    «Augenbrauen und Berghänge»
    (Basler Zeitung, 30.12.2016) 

    «Missverstandene Schönheiten»
    (Ensuite – Zeitschrift für Kultur & Kunst, 2.11.2016) 

    «Itō Shinsui»
    (Cosmopolis, 1.11.2016) 

    «Japans anderes Gesicht»
    (Zeitlupe, 1.11.2016) 

    «Der diskrete Charme der Nostalgie»
    (Sonntag, 27.10.2016) 

    «Voglia di Giappone»
    (Azione, 24.10.2016) 

    (Swissinfo.ch, 14.10.2016)

    «Verlässliche Werte»
    (Brigitte, 12.10.2016) 

    «Bewegende Raffinesse»
    (Der Landbote, 26.9.2016) 

    «In lackschwarzen Spuren lesen»
    (NZZ, 23.9.2016) 

    «Itō Shinsui – Nostalgie in der Moderne»
    (Prestige News, 22.9.2016) 

    «Der Traditionalist und die schönen Frauen»
    (Tagblatt der Stadt Zürich, 21.9.2016) 

    «Itō Shinsui – Nostalgie in der Moderne»
    (kultur-online, 19.9.2016)

    «Bilder, an die man ganz nahe heran will»

    (Tages-Anzeiger, 17.9.2016)

    «Il mondo gentile della pittura giapponese»
    (Piaceri&Saperi, 16.9.2016) 

    «Un maître de l'estampe japonaise moderne exposé à Zurich»
    (La Liberté, 15.9.2016)

    «Tradition muss sein»
    (Züritipp, 15.9.2016) 

    «Nostalgie in der Moderne – Itō Shinsui im Museum Rietberg»
    (events24.ch, 3.9.2016) 

    «Meisterhafte Schnitttechniken»
    (Bolero, 1.9.2016) 

    «Entre idéalisme et nostalgie, le pinceau inspiré d'itō shinsui»
    (Artpassions, 9.2016)




    View of the exhibition


    «Music garden»
    Piano concerto Masako Ohta
    Sun 18 September 2016, 12.30pm

    Fashion Talk with Kazu Huggler
    The Japanese-Swiss fashion designer Kazu Huggler presents her couture creations which are inspired by Itō Shinsuis portraits of women. 
    Sat 22 October 2016, 4-6pm (second date due to high demand Sat 22 October 2016, 2-3pm)

    «Issun boshi», a Japanese musical fairy-tale
    Narrator Fränzi Frick and the Pacific Quartet Vienna take children from six years upwards on a voyage of discovery to the world of Japanese fairy-tales in musical form.
    Sun 13 November 2016, 3pm 

    How is a Japanese woodblock print made?
    Print master Okada Takuya will demonstrate the complex printing process of Japanese woodblock prints.
    Sat 26 + Sun 27 November, 11am-1pm + 2-4pm

    All events (in German) More »

    More Material

    Press More »