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Kimono exhibition “Kimono: A Modern History” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York

Antique Uchikake Kimono

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York is currently showing a kimono exhibition called “Kimono: A Modern History”, which started September 27 and is going to end January 15 in 2015.

 

The Arts of Japan Galleries have been transformed into a dazzling fashion show of kimono from the late eighteenth century to the present day. Translated literally as “thing to wear,” the kimono has gone through major transformations throughout history: in the Edo period (1615–1868) it was an everyday garment, and now it is worn mainly on special occasions and collected as “traditional Japanese art.” Its design, function, and meaning have shifted dramatically in the last one hundred and fifty years, shaped by the dialogue of Japanese traditions, modern inventions, and Western ideas. Featuring more than fifty spectacular robes, this exhibition tells a story about the Japanese garment whose designs mirror trends in pictorial and decorative arts of every era. Both sumptuous garments custom-made for wealthy patrons and everyday wear available for sale to the general public are represented. Highlights also include three examples of contemporary kimono created by designers designated by the Japanese government as Living National Treasures.

Some twenty-five robes on loan from private and public collections, including the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, the John C. Weber Collection, Julia Meech Collection, and others complement examples from the Metropolitan’s Asian Art and Costume Institute collections; they are exhibited together with paintings, prints, and illustrated books, as well as lacquerware and ceramics, that share common design patterns with kimono. These T-shaped robes, decorated with a seemingly infinite variety of designs, not only reflect fashion trends but reveal much about Japanese culture, history, and society if we unlock the circumstances of their manufacture, sale, and ownership.

The page of the exhibition can be found here.

Some examples of what is displayed:

Antique Uchikake Kimono
Over Robe (Uchikake) with Long-Tailed Birds in a Landscape, second half of the 18th century. Japan, Edo period (1615–1868). Silk and metallic-thread embroidery and paste-resist dyeing on silk satin damask. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Gift of Charles Zadok, 1959 (59.46)

 

Fireman kimono
Fireman’s Jacket with the Wizard Jiraiya Turning into a Giant Toad, early 20th century. Japan, Meiji period (1868–1912). Quilted cotton with paste relief. Lent by John C. Weber Collection

 

Unlined Summer Kimono (Hito-e) with Plovers in Flight over Stylized Waves. Japan, Taishō period (1912–26). Embroidered and dye-patterned silk gauze (ro). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Gift of Atsuko Irie, in honor of Suga Irie, 1998 (1998.487.5)
Unlined Summer Kimono (Hito-e) with Plovers in Flight over Stylized Waves. Japan, Taishō period (1912–26). Embroidered and dye-patterned silk gauze (ro). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Gift of Atsuko Irie, in honor of Suga Irie, 1998 (1998.487.5)

 

Moriguchi Kunihiko (Japanese, b. 1941). Kimono with Flowing Water Design, 1992. Japan, Heisei period (1989–present). Paste-resist dyed (yūzen) crepe silk. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Purchase, Sue Cassidy Clark Gift, in memory of Terry Satsuki Milhaupt, 2014 (2014.521) © Moriguchi Kunihiko
Moriguchi Kunihiko (Japanese, b. 1941). Kimono with Flowing Water Design, 1992. Japan, Heisei period (1989–present). Paste-resist dyed (yūzen) crepe silk. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Purchase, Sue Cassidy Clark Gift, in memory of Terry Satsuki Milhaupt, 2014 (2014.521) © Moriguchi Kunihiko

 

An additional article about the history of the kimono design can also be found on the website of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. For your convenience, you can find it here: Waves, Waterfalls, and Whirling Water on Japanese Kimono

[…]
During the Edo period (1615–1868) one’s manner of dressing in public immediately revealed social status. The formal over robes for samurai- and merchant-class ladies worn untied over the kimono were often embellished with auspicious symbols—especially those designed for a wedding. Birds with long tails inhabit a bright landscape of waterfalls, rocks, pine trees, and cherry blossoms on this over robe; most brilliant of all is the gold thread of the waterfalls.
[…]

The Museum is open 7 days a week:
Sunday–Thursday: 10:00 a.m.–5:30 p.m.*
Friday and Saturday: 10:00 a.m.–9:00 p.m.*
Closed Thanksgiving Day, December 25, January 1, and the first Monday in May

Admission prices:

Adults: $25
Seniors: $17
Students $12
Members and children under 12: free

It’s surely not cheap, but considering all the other awesome stuff you can see there, it’s really not a high price.