Introduction

Introduction
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Japanese Prints: Word/Poem/Picture is an exploration of Japanese pre-modern art and modern avant-garde visual poetry. Many scholars and artists deny that there are correlations between Japanese avant-garde visual poetry and pre-modern art, instead viewing the former as part of an international discourse. However, Japanese pre-modern art that used words and images to create intellectual puzzles and a sense of playfulness constructed a secure foundation for contemporary visual poets. In the post-industrial age, poets mixed words with sculptural form, or replaced text entirely with images. Though utterly transformed to suit modern sensibilities, the mix of words, poems, and images continues to have endless potential, both in sparking the new and “conversing with the past.

The fifty-seven works in this exhibition include woodblock prints, books, drawings, photographs, assemblages, and textiles, among others, and range in date from the mid-seventeenth century to the twentieth century; thirty-two of the objects are from LACMA’s permanent collection.

- Hollis Goodall, Curator, Japanese Art (2007)