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Exhibition Details


Wrightwood 659 premieres an intimate selection of Japanese paintings exhibited for the first time in the United States. These works expand on the common depiction of the urbane “modern girl” (modan garu or moga). Moga captured the public imagination in 1920s Japan—prioritizing an independent lifestyle and challenging the traditional state-sanctioned ideal of the “good wife, wise mother.” Nonetheless, the ideal role of women in Japanese society was not one-dimensional and continued to diversify during the 1930s. Moga: Modern Women & Daughters in 1930s Japan brings paintings of mothers and daughters back into the conversation about the moga, exhibiting them beside other, more popular imagery of the “modern girl.”
Minori Egashira, Consulting Curator and PhD candidate at the University of Chicago, states, ”We are thrilled that the public will have an opportunity to see this presentation of rarely seen works from 1930s Japan. We hope that this is just the beginning of a broader and more nuanced conversation about depictions of Japanese women during this period.”
Drawn from the private collection of Naomi Pollock and David Sneider, many of the paintings in the exhibition originated in the noted Meguro Gajoen currently Hotel Gajoen Tokyo, a massive entertainment, a massive entertainment complex that first opened in 1931, filled with paintings from the period, primarily of women. The founder of the Meguro Gajoen, Hosokawa Rikiz., was a great patron of new Japanese-style paintings (shin nihonga), which blended Western motifs and perspective techniques with traditional Japanese painting materials and methods. He collected many notable artists from the Showa era, as well as works reflective of the period's popular taste.
Both modern in appearance and traditional in values, these works from the walls of the Meguro Gajoen featured women and children effortlessly engaged in scenes from everyday life. Such paintings have received less attention than those of the typical, progressive moga, which have tended to be the primary focus of past museum exhibitions and academic narratives. Moga: Modern Women & Daughters in 1930s Japan is a nuanced exploration of feminine representation during a period of dramatic change.

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