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May 23rd, 2000
Tea, Poetry, and Rimpa Showcases Japanese Arts

Hon'ami Koetsu, the 17th-century Japanese artist who is the subject of a major exhibition at the Philadelphia Museum of Art from July 29 to October 29, 2000, is renowned especially for his contributions to the arts of tea, poetry, and Rimpa. (Rimpa is a bold decorative style that took imagery from the natural world and native classical literature as its subject). As both preview and complement for The Arts of Hon'ami Koetsu, Japanese Renaissance Master, the Museum will present Tea, Poetry, and Rimpa: Works From Japan, an exhibition on view from July 1, 2000, to May 2001 in galleries 241, 242, and 243 on the Museum's second floor.

Among the works shown in Tea, Poetry, and Rimpa are painted wood Votive Plaques of the Thirty-six Immortal Poets (1698), an exceedingly rare and complete set on loan to the Museum by Dr. Luther W. Brady, Jr. The votive plaques (known as ema) were most likely commissioned for display in a shrine or temple. Each ema presents a poem inscribed in calligraphy accompanied by an imaginary portrait of its author, one of a group of preeminent writers designated the "Thirty-six Immortal Poets" (or Sanjurokkasen). Another highlight of Tea, Poetry, and Rimpa is a poem with calligraphy by Konoe Nobutada (1565-1614) who, with Koetsu and Shokado Shojo, was acclaimed one of the "Three Brushes of the Kan'ei Era."

Rimpa first emerged in the early 17th century, and traces its lineage to the paintings, lacquerware and book designs of Koetsu (1558-1637) and Tawaraya Sotatsu (active ca. 1600 - 40). Displayed in Tea, Poetry, and Rimpa are paintings, prints, laquerware, ceramics and textiles by artists who adopted the style and subject matter of Koetsu and Sotatsu, including Ogata Korin (1658-1716) and his brother Ogata Kenzan (1663-1743), Sakai Hoitsu (1761-1828), Morimura Hogi (1805-1862), and Kamisaka Sekka (1866-1942). One spectacular Rimpa-style screen of Autumn Flowers included in the exhibition was once in the collection of the Philadelphia artist Mary Cassatt.

Some of Hon'ami Koetsu's most remarkable creations are related to his love of tea and teabowls. Tea, Poetry, and Rimpa presents teabowls made by the Raku family of potters, with whom Koetsu worked. Also showcased in the installation are other objects used in the Japanese tea ceremony (chanoyu)--during which powdered green tea is prepared by a tea master in the company of guests--ranging from tea scoops and kettles to lacquer incense containers and charcoal baskets.

The Philadelphia Museum of Art is among the largest museums in the United States, with a collection of more than 227,000 works of art and more than 200 galleries presenting painting, sculpture, works on paper, photography, decorative arts, textiles, and architectural settings from Asia, Europe, Latin America, and the United States. Its facilities include its landmark Main Building on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, the Perelman Building, located nearby on Pennsylvania Avenue, the Rodin Museum on the 2200 block of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, and two 18th-century houses in Fairmount Park, Mount Pleasant and Cedar Grove. The Museum offers a wide variety of activities for public audiences, including special exhibitions, programs for children and families, lectures, concerts and films.

For additional information, contact the Communications Department of the Philadelphia Museum of Art phone at 215-684-7860, by fax at 215-235-0050, or by e-mail at pressroom@philamuseum.org. The Philadelphia Museum of Art is located on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway at 26th Street. For general information, call (215) 763-8100.

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