MFAH Artful Thursday Lecture: "Japanese Icons"

Photo © The Israel Museum, Jerusalem by Elie Posner

Mount Fuji and cherry blossoms, geisha and samurai, the emperor and the Japanese flag. Many Japanese icons are featured on painted folding screens in the exhibition Unfolding Worlds: Japanese Screens and Contemporary Ceramics from the Gitter-Yelen Collection.

For centuries, such images represented Japan to the Western world in a way that made Japan seem like an exotic, faraway land. Today, these rarefied symbols have been replaced with now-mundane ones — sushi, ramen, Hello Kitty, anime — that have become so assimilated into everyday life as to seemingly lose their "Japaneseness."

See how these enduring icons continue to shape the image of Japan in important ways. Explore how and why old and new icons alike circulate in a variety of media, from premodern ukiyo-e prints, to classical tales by court ladies and wandering monks, to films, to pop culture.

Presented by Kirsten Cather, associate professor, department of Asian studies, University of Texas at Austin.



Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
1001 Bissonnet St.
Houston, TX 77005


Admission is free.
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