Japanese Anime Crosscurrents at Williamstown Expo
In a recent review of Japanese prints at the Clark, I suggested we’re all waiting for an exhibition to explore the “descendants of Japanese imagination from ukiyo-e, like manga comic forms leading to anime “. Well, here it is: “Repro Japan: Popular Visual Culture Technologies”. It was just across town this whole time at the Williams College Museum of Art.
And it’s wonderful: designing kimono prints, individual anime film cels, cosplay performance photography, vintage ukiyo-e prints and more ferment in a busy gallery with enough layers and associations to keep your head turned. While the title guesses that technology underlies the spread of these various forms, there is another, deeper stream: the human body. From the characters depicted in fancifully fashioned 19th century prints (in representation and in fact) to the types and archetypes seen in Japanese animation, there is the essence of humanity and character everywhere. Sometimes it’s insightful, sometimes it comes down to style or stylization, but it all relates and comes back.