Block party

Toyohara Kunichika’s 1894 portrait of actor Ichikawa Sadanji I.
GO Brooklyn Editor
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This weekend is the last opportunity for visitors to see the Brooklyn Museum’s breathtaking exhibition of Japanese woodblock prints, “Utagawa: Masters of the Japanese Print, 1770–1900.”

The show is a truly vintage collection of pop art by members of the Utagawa school of artists, featuring dramatic caricatures of famous kabuki actors — “there already was a celebrity culture,” museum curator Joan Cummins told GO Brooklyn; to portraits of beautiful women; to stunning landscapes.

The woodblock prints were snapped up by the masses because of their artistry and affordability, and these predecessors to comic book art still have the power to captivate.

In addition to the mass produced loose prints, the exhibit also features books of prints with exquisite details — like thinner carvings, embossed pages and unusual inks — that were commissioned by private patrons.

Lest you think that graphic art is just for kids, be warned, there’s some sexy stuff here, too.

Cummins explained that during this peaceful era in Japan’s history “there was censorship over political content, but not erotica or violent content.”

“Utagawa: Masters of the Japanese Print, 1770-1900,” is on exhibit through June 15 in the Brooklyn Museum (200 Eastern Pkwy. at Washington Avenue in Prospect Heights). Admission is $8. For information, call (718) 638-5000 or visit

Updated 5:07 pm, July 9, 2018
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