Beyond Golden Clouds

The Art Institute of Chicago is having a special exhibit of Japanese screens from June 26 until September 27, 2009.

We went to see them, today, my mother and I. Unfortunately, I was unable to take photographs of them (the staff frowned severely on me and my camera), but I will post a few of my favorites here:

dragon knows dragon

The screen on the wall of this home was on display today. It’s called Dragon Knows Dragon, and I found it on Architectural Digest  above this caption: “With his clients’ collection of Asian art in mind, California-based designer Ron Mann refurbished a modern penthouse in London overlooking the Thames. In the main living area is Dragon Knows Dragon, a four-panel lacquered screen by Shiryu Morita.”

But, the really cool part about Dragon Knows Dragon is the translation which the Art Institute wrote next to the screen: a phrase meaning “to recognize greatness is greatness.” I’d like to think that’s true…

Another of my favorite screens is called Mountain Lake Screen Tachi by Okura Jiro. It was made from trees in the woods of Virginia, and it looks like this:


Of course, this is again photographed outside of the museum where the artist had completed his work. But, I loved what the caption said by its display: “It is the artist’s intention that over time, bits of the gold leaf will fall from the screens and the wood will return to its natural state. His acceptance of the gradual transformation of his art can be taken as a metaphor for the ever changing condition of nature stressed in Buddhism.”

I loved looking at these screens today from the first one which was painted in 1969 to some that were over 500 years old done in pen and ink. I bought a few things from this collection for prizes during the Japanese Literature Challenge 3, so be on the lookout for them to reappear sometime soon…

16 thoughts on “Beyond Golden Clouds”

  1. I hate it when they jump all over people with cameras!!! I had to put mine away in the Tate Gallery in London and when I got it back out to try to take a picture of the outdoors, through the window . . . No, ma'am. No photos. NONE. We'll have to ask you to leave if you –Geez, people. Get a life.


  2. Now, this is an example of one of the few things I feel like I miss out on living where I do. Not enough to make me want to move, however!I love the photos, even if they aren't yours.cjh


  3. You take really wonderful pictures (even if they are taken illicitly)! Well done. I did not know the AIC had a Japanese screen exhibit. I got an e-mail saying they have a fun-sounding wine exhibit on now. I was last there when the Modern Wing opened and it was just so exhausting to squeeze through the crush of people that I didn't even have the energy to go see my favorite part of the museum, the miniature rooms.Glad I stumbled on your blog- I think we read a lot of the same books, though have some differing reactions 🙂


  4. ds, they do produce sort of a meditative state. I was amazed at the age of them, the different varieties (some so modern!), and the stories many beautiful paintings told. They even had one telling The Tale of Genji, although it was only about 8 panels or so.CJ, there are equally wonderful aspects of living in the country or the city. I could neve make up my mind which I prefer most. Although, I suspect I like the quiet and peace of the North the best. ;)Aarti, we went to the new Modern Wing on June 9, and it' wasn't bad at all. I think many kids (and their parents) were still in school! I absolutely despise a crushing crowd, so I don't blame you one bit for being to exhausted to push on. I bet you barely saw anything. This new exhibit is really great, so if you get a chance you might like to come again. I didn't see the win one, though. Thanks for visiting me. i'm glad you stumbled upon this blog, too, and now I'm wondering what books we feel differently about.


  5. Just in time for the JPLC 3!! I keep hoping that I'll open up my Google Reader and see a lovely (official) announcment for it–absolutely can't wait. I really need to get out to one of our museums soon–it's been far too long. This one sounds like a gorgeous event.


  6. geez, I love that outdoor installation and the artist's intent that the gold leaf will fall over returning to the wood alone…I've been thinking a lot about art lately and creating something and wondering about how I'd get by doing it if I didn't go to work every day and wondering if it would "hold up" and be meaningful…I so admire those who take the leap and just create…and your entry is tranquil and thought provoking at the same time. Thanks for this.And by the way, would you email me your address? I saved it from the wrapper on the book you sent me, but someone "moved" it from the kitchen counter, and I have a something to send to you! so when you have a moment, I'd love to have your address again and I promise to record it somewhere (like, in my address book where it belongs!) Happy 4th!


  7. Oh, you picked up on one of the phrases that touched me the most, that the artist wanted to return to the natural state. I think that was one of the most beautiful aspects of the display to me, to not fight nature, not fight what is as I feel the world is doing. I can't explain it, exactly, but I was moved by his sentiments. I admire those who take the leap and create, too, not bound by money or opinions of others. Thank you for your thoughtful response.


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