November 18, 2006

EHON: The Artist and the Book in Japan

Visitors to the New York Public Library, on Fifth Avenue at 42nd Street, are in for a treat. Guest curator Roger S. Keyes has drawn upon the Library's extensive collections to present for the first time an in-depth look at the development of "ehon" or "picture books". Not just a medium for the dissemination of information, these books are works of art in themselves.

In this exhibition, Mr. Keyes traces the history of ehon from 764 up to the present day. He focuses on both the art of creating the book as well as the art contained within the covers. The visitor to the show is struck by the beauty and complexity of the design of the wrappers, cases and covers which the reader must carefully open to discover the treasures within. Once the interior is revealed, the conversation between the elegant calligraphy, the accompanying images, and the viewer, begins. It is a tactile and intimate experience.

Asian tradition divides the cosmos into three distinct parts - Heaven (the sky, weather and spirits), Earth (land, sea and creatures), and Humanity (the living bond between Heaven and Earth). Ehon tradition calls for a bond between artists and artisans to create these small gems that pay homage to life and creativity.

This exhibition is free to the public and will remain on view until February 4, 2007.

No comments: