Engines of Progress: Images of Railroad Culture in Modern Japan
from the Paulette and Jack Lantz Collection
August 2 – October 31, 2022
Closed on Sundays and Aug. 12 ,13, 19, 20, Sept. 5, Oct. 10
The Japan Foundation, Los Angeles Office
(5700 Wilshire Blvd., #100 Los Angeles, CA 90036)
The speeding steam locomotive is an enduring symbol of technological progress and an emblem of modern ideas of enlightenment, exploration, and empire. Celebrating the 150th anniversary of the first rail line in Japan, this exhibition focuses on railroad culture as captured in mass-produced woodblock prints and related objects.
It shows how—after centuries of relative isolation and movement by foot, horse or sail—railroads were fundamental in Japan’s rapid transformation in the age of bunmei kaika (civilization and development). As importantly, images of trains show how print artists used railway imagery to project popular fantasies of the present and future. The imaginative space of railroad prints is clarified and extended through comparison with other popular culture objects—lanterns, watches, timetables, maps—so that visitors are transported aboard these ‘iron dragons’ and move through the dynamic world of Japan’s modernization.
These objects come from Paulette and Jack Lantz, who have spent decades assembling what is likely the largest private collection of Japanese railroad prints from the Meiji period and after.
This exhibition is curated by Dr. Kendall H. Brown
Dr. Kendall H. Brown is a professor of Asian Art History at California State University Long Beach. He publishes actively in several areas of Japanese art and has organized exhibitions for several American museums on topics from modern woodblock prints to Art Deco. He is currently working on an exhibition of Japanese sheet music covers for the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
Photo Credit: Steve Crise Photoproduction
The exhibition is in cooperation with East Japan Railway Company
The JR Group, including JR East, is commemorating 150 years of railroad service in Japan with a variety of events throughout all the JR Group companies.