The religious and historical influences of animals in Japanese culture will be the focus of a major exhibition next spring at the National Gallery of Art.
A collaboration with the Japan Foundation and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, “The Life of Animals in Japanese Art” will feature 330 pieces representing many media, from prints and sculpture to textiles and ceramics. Spanning 15 centuries, the exhibit will showcase sculpture and hanging scrolls dating to the 13th century, as well as works by such leading contemporary artists as Yayoi Kusama and Takashi Murakami.
The full exhibition will be on view May 5 through July 28, 2019, in Washington, and a smaller version will run Sept. 8 through Dec. 8 at LACMA.
The exhibit includes ancient works on loan from the Tokyo National Museum that rarely travel outside Japan, as well as contemporary pieces such as a Murakami mural from 2014 that is a response to the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. The exhibit is organized around eight themes, including ancient Japan, the Japanese zodiac, religion, folklore, nature and leisure.
“The Life of Animals” will occupy 18,000 square feet in the same ground-floor galleries of the East Building that hosted this year’s “Outliers” show. The exhibit’s footprint is three times the size of the recently closed “Cezanne Portraits” and last fall’s Vermeer show. It is the gallery’s seventh major exhibition on Japanese art.