Woodblock prints from Japan on display at WMC's Gallery One Stylized works of Ukiyo-e school influenced West

January 11, 1993

A collection of Japanese rice paper prints dating from the 19th century will be displayed in Western Maryland College's Gallery One through Jan. 22.

The exhibit is free and open to the public. The gallery is on the third floor of the college's Hoover Library in Westminster.

It is open from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday. Saturday the gallery will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The delicate color woodblock prints are being exhibited at the college as part of the January Term course, "History of Japan: 1600 to the Present," being taught by Dr. Richard Titlow, an educator at several area colleges and universities, including WMC.

Dr. Titlow, who also is a manager in the U.S. Department of Transportation, said recently that the prints, from his personal collection, were produced on a mass scale in Japan during the 19th and early 20th centuries by Ukiyo-e artists, and largely focused on scenes of urban life and popular destinations.

The school of printing responsible for the works came into its own during Japan's prosperous Genroku era, which lasted from 1688 until 1704.

The highly stylized works, which involved meticulous block printing with brightly colored inks, were a great influence on many of the Impressionist painters of the West.

Those artists were intrigued by the Ukiyo-e school's flatness of forms, use of color, spontaneity, and representation of contemporary society.

European artists continue to draw inspiration from the Ukiyo-e.

The exhibit displays several prominent 20th-century European artists who were influenced by the prints. Dr. Titlow described the prints as the Japanese equivalent of Western posters, and noted that they were very popular in the island nation.

Recently, Japanese collectors have retrieved many of these prints that made their way to the United States during the American occupation of 1945-1952.

A longtime student of Japanese culture, politics and history, Dr. Titlow has taught courses on Japanese management concepts and history at American University, Georgetown University and the University of Maryland.

He taught two January Term courses at Western Maryland in 1982 on the histories of Japan and Nazi Germany.

"History of Japan" examines the country from several vantage points, including the period of seclusion, restoration of a central monarchy, the building of its empire, its role in World War II and the postwar period.

Additional information: Office of Public Information, 857-2294.

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