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Fantastic ! Kuniyoshi

Demon of prints

From 1st october 2015 to 17 january 2016

Visitors to the Petit Palais are invited to discover, for the first time in France, the work of the extraordinary artist, Kuniyoshi (1797-1861). Thanks to generous loans from Japan, supplemented by loans from French institutions, the 250 works on display will give a full picture of Kuniyoshi’s dramatic genius and the expressive beauty of his work. The exhibition will explain the function of the imagery and its importance in Japanese culture. Kuniyoshi’s work has had an enormous influence on manga art and tattooing.

Kuniyoshi was an almost exact contemporary of Eugène Delacroix but, in the West, he never achieved the fame of Hokusai or Utamaro. Perhaps because of its nonconformist quality, his work was not taken up in Europe during the late 19th-century vogue for decorative Japanese art, although it was much admired by Monet and Rodin. His prints are characterised by originality in their inspiration and composition, violence in the monster and warrior prints, and humour in the Chinese shadows series, the caricatures and his representations of the life of cats.

The thematic trail will emphasise Kuniyoshi’s tremendous stylistic variety and his seemingly boundless imagination.

An introductory space will be devoted to a presentation of the artist and his reception in France in the 19th century. The next five sections are designed as variations on his engraved work and will show the teeming exuberance of his inspiration. Visitors will first discover a section devoted to warriors and dragons, a stylistic genre in which Kuniyoshi excelled. In the next room: famous Kabuki actors whose highly expressive portraits tend towards caricature. After that, we linger over pleasures and distractions in Edo, in the guise of a large variety of surprising prints, the ‘bijin-ga’, for example, traditional female beauties, and some even stranger engravings, the ‘kodomo-e’ – these are pictures of children and they reveal the artist’s very personal take on scenes of daily life. The next room contains a selection of landscape prints in which the slightly photographic point of view gives them a great sense of modernity. The exhibition ends with an important body of satirical and humorous work that attests to the artist’s incomparable talent for caricature. These images of day-to-day life, populated by anthropomorphic cats, birds and toads, have influenced a whole generation of manga artists.

Didier Blin’s bold, contemporary scenography will set up a dialogue with the very personal and original world of Kuniyoshi and will give pride of place to his formal invention, which is characterised as much by an exploration of the limits of different formats as by his compositional effects. The catalogue accompanying the exhibition will be the first publication in French devoted to Kuniyoshi.

The exhibition is organised by the Petit Palais and Nikkei


Yuriko Iwakiri, academic curator

Gaëlle Rio, curator at the Petit Palais


A découvrir dans les collections permanentes Sabbat et tentations, Dürer, Callot et Desmazières et Japonisme et arts de la table

 Découvrez le teaser de la double exposition "Fantastique ! 

Expositions Fantastique ! | Petit Palais par paris_musees

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