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Japanese Modernism at the NGV showcases works created during the first half of the 20th century, when Japan’s traditional art and aesthetics interacted with European life and culture, resulting in an era of modernism and the emergence of Asian Art Deco architecture, paintings, prints, design and fashion.

From the early 1920s until the late 1930s Japan developed a lively consumer culture and felt the influence of new technologies from abroad. Its cities underwent major redevelopment and featured bustling streets filled with department stores, cafés, teahouses, movie theatres, ballroom dance halls and modern transportation that catered to a new generation of urban pleasure seekers.

Japanese Modernism investigates the increasing socially liberated status of Asian women with the inclusion of major works by young female artists of the era. The exhibition features rare, large-scale paintings by young Japanese artists and modernist colour prints produced with the refined techniques of traditional ukiyo-e. The exhibition also features fashion of the era, including women’s and men’s kimonos and related accessories. Popular culture and interior design will be represented with beautifully crafted glassware, lacquer ware and bronze ware, as well as street posters, magazines and graphic design.

This exhibition is the result of a focused collecting strategy to build the NGV’s holdings of visually inspiring art and design from this fascinating and little recognised era of Asian art.

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