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Past Exhibitions

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Songbook for “Song of the Milky Way” from the film Milky Way

Songbook for “Song of the Milky Way” (Ginga no uta) from the film Milky Way (GINGA), 1931, printed by Noguchi Tsurukichi, published by ShŌchiku kinema gakufu shuppansha, color lithograph, inks and color on paper, 10 7/16 x 7 1/2 in.

Kirin Ornaments

Kirin Ornaments (Kirin okimono), ca. 1930, Sakaida Kakiemon XII, Japanese, 1878-1963, porcelain with transparent glaze, 13 x 12 1/2 x 7 3/4 in.

Deco Japan: Shaping Art and Culture, 1920–1945

May 10 – Oct 19 2014

Seattle Asian Art Museum

Tateuchi Galleries

Jazz. Gin. Short hair and short skirts. The modern girl. The rise of film, and the advent of skyscrapers and air travel. After World War I, the world was changing rapidly. With the machine age came an increased emphasis on speed.

The art world answered with Art Deco, which had a driving energy that found expression in its use of themes from cultures all over the world, wild appropriation of other art forms, and graphic designs with fast lines that could be adapted and used on everything from housewares to posters, and for everything from politics to advertising.

By World War II, Art Deco had left its mark on almost every medium of visual art.

Deco Japan: Shaping Art and Culture, 1920–1945, with nearly 200 works, reveals the widespread and particular impact of Art Deco on Japanese culture. Through a wide range of mediums—sculpture, painting, prints, ceramics, lacquerware, jewelry, textiles, furniture, and graphic ephemera—this exhibition introduces the spectacular craftsmanship and sophisticated designs of Japan’s contribution to the movement.

Shown in our gem-like 1933 Art Deco building, Deco Japan offers you the rare opportunity to experience the full range of Deco artistry in a period setting.

The Craftsman's Utopias​​​​​

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Table Clock with Rabbit Pounding Rice-cake on the Moon, ca. 1920s-1930s, Neya Chūroku, Japanese, 1897-1987, bronze on wood base, 9 7/16 x 14 1/4 x 7 1/16 in.

Deluded Demons Run Away (Roaring Lion Sculpture)

Deluded Demons Run Away​ (Roaring Lion Sculpture) (Kimi tōhoku), 1938, Tsuda Shinobu, Japanese, 1875 - 1946, bronze, 11 x 17 1/4 x 5 1/2 in.


Songbook for

Songbook for "Song of the Era of Erotic Feelings" (Erokan jidai no uta), 1930, Saitō Kazō, Japanese, 1887–1955, inks on paper, 16 x 20 in.

Dancer or

Dancer, or "Curved Line of the Instant" (Dansā, or Setsuna no kyokusen), 1932, Kobayakawa Kiyoshi, Japanese, 1899 - 1948, ink and color on paper, 24 x 20 in.

Songbook for

Songbook for "The Modern Song" (Modan bushi), 1930, K. Kotani, Japanese, ink on paper, 16 x 20 in.


Richard E. Fuller and his mother, Margaret E. MacTavish Fuller

Richard E. Fuller and his mother, Margaret E. MacTavish Fuller, at the entrance to the Seattle Art Museum in Volunteer Park in 1933. The building was their gift to the City of Seattle. Photography by Leonid Fink/Seattle Times

THEre's Nothing Puritanical About It

The center of​ night life is a vast crucible of electric flame. The throb of the jungle tom-tom; the symphony of lust; the music of a hundred orchestras; the swaying of bodies; the rhythm of abandon; the hot smoke of desire—desire under the floodlights; it’s all fun; it’s life. Joy, gin, and jazz.

–from the guidebook All About Shanghai and Environs (Shanghai: Shanghai University Press, 1934), 76.​

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"Dancers Shanghai, New Carlton Café" (Odori shanhai nyū karuton shoken), 1924, Yamamura Kōka, Japanese, 1888-1942, ink, mica, and pigment on paper, 20 x 16 in.​​

From the CollectorS​​​​

Obi with Boats and Bridge Design

Obi with Boats and Bridge Design, ca. 1930s, unknown, printed silk, metallic thread, satin, 75 x 12 in.

Smoking Set with Lacquer Tray

Smoking Set with Lacquer Tray, 1931, Yamakawa Kōji, Japanese, 1884 - 1938, lacquered wood, shibuichi, silver, shakudō, 1 1/2 x 13 5/8 x 9 5/8 in.

Vase with Flying Fish Design

Vase with Flying fish design, ca. 1930s, Isozaki Yoshitsugu (Bia), Japanese, 1884–1949, silver with gilding, 12 x 8 5/16 in.

Deco Japan: Shaping Art & Culture, 1920–1945

To learn more about this fantastic exhibition, visit SAM Shop at the Asian Art Museum or SAM Books at the Seattle Art Museum to pick up a copy of the exhibition catalogue Edited ​​by Kendall H. Brown. With rich descriptions of the objects and in-depth essays, it's a fascinating dive into Deco-era Japan.


The exhibition is drawn from The Levenson Collection and is organized and circulated by Art Services International, Alexandria, Virginia. Support has been provided by The Chisholm Foundation and the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation. His Excellency, Mr. Ichiro Fujisaki, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan to the United States of America is Honorary Patron of the exhibition.

The Seattle presentation is supported by
Tateuchi Foundation
Katherine Agen Baillargeon Endowment
Freeman Foundation
The Japan Foundation
Parnassus Foundation / Jane and Raphael Bernstein

Official Airline Sponsor
Spain Arts & Culture​​​​​​​​

All works in Deco Japan: Shaping Art & Culture, 1920–1945 courtesy of the Levenson Collection.​​

The above Deco-era source material is borrowed from the exhibition catalogue: Kendall H. Brown, Deco Japan: Shaping Art and Culture, 1920–1945 (Alexandria, Virginia: Art Services International, 2012), 47, 19, 248, 242, 7. ​

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