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  • Lecture
  • Symposium
  • Exhibit

Arthur Tress and the Japanese Illustrated Book: A Celebration

Exhibition symposium and opening event

This event has already occurred

September 29 - 30, 2022
Hybrid event: Class of 1978 Orrery Pavilion, Van Pelt-Dietrich Library, sixth floor; and on Zoom
Open to the Public

Hosted by: Kislak Center

Print shows two adults and a child crossing a bridge over water, surrounded by hills and a tree. Two additional people are waving on the riverbank.

In 2018 acclaimed photographer Arthur Tress donated over 1200 titles, including many rare volumes from the late 1700s to the 1930s, ranging across artist books, kyōka poetry, erotica, and design, among others, to the Penn Libraries’ Kislak Center. In this symposium scholars will discuss the world of Japanese books and collecting. Programming will include a conversation with the collector and the opening of the exhibit Arthur Tress and the Japanese Illustrated Book. The keynote will be delivered by Peter Kornicki, Emeritus Professor of Japanese Studies, Cambridge University, author of The Book in Japan: A Cultural History from the Beginnings to the Nineteenth Century and Eavesdropping on the Emperor

Details and Registration

Registration for the symposium is free and open to the public. The program will be held in person with an option to join virtually. Please register for each day and select a virtual or in-person option. Note: If you plan to attend only the exhibition opening (Friday, September 30, 5:30pm), please register here.

Special Thanks

Major sponsorship for this symposium comes from the Japan Foundation. It is co-sponsored by the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts; the Center for East Asian Studies; Penn History of Art; and the School of Arts and Sciences Faculty Working Group.

Image: Totoya Hokkei (artist), KyōkadōShimando (author), Tokiwa no taki, Japan, 1833

Thursday, September 29

3:00pm: Panel discussion

Rebecca Mendelson, University of Pennsylvania, chair

  • Ryoko Matsuba, Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures, “To open or not to open?”
  • Laura Nüffer, Colby College, “Coming Home to Roost: The Tress Collection Tsuru no soshi as a Remedy to Tragedy”
  • Kyoko Kinoshita, Tama Art University and Philadelphia Museum of Art (remote), "Kaken Research Project on the Arthur Tress Collection at the University of Pennsylvania."

4:00pm: Presentation of the exhibition

Introduction of items in the exhibition by catalog editors Eri Mizukane, Nicholas Purgett, and Maria Puzyreva, as well as Caitlin Adkins, Patrick Carland-Echavarria, Ann Ho, and Derek Rodenbeck, members of the Curatorial Seminars who prepared the exhibition. Goldstein Family Gallery, 6th floor, Van Pelt-Dietrich Library

5:00 Reception

Friday, September 30 

8:45am: Registration 

9:00am: Welcome

  • Julie Nelson Davis, University of Pennsylvania
  • Constantia Constantinou, H. Carlton Rogers III Vice Provost and Director of the Penn Libraries

9:15am: Session 1

Julie Nelson Davis, University of Pennsylvania, chair

  • Akama Ryo, Ritsumeikan University, “Digital Research Space for Picture Books and Illustrated Books: Effective Use of the Ritsumeikan ARC Database” (remote)
  • Adam L. Kern, University of Wisconsin-Madison, “Stripping Down & Redressing ‘Haiku’ in Erotic Prints (Shunga)” (remote)
  • Ellis Tinios, University of Leeds, “From Artist’s Sketches to Printed Image: An Examination of Isai gashiki shita-zu” (remote)

10:30am Coffee break

10:50am: Session 2 

Ayako Kano, University of Pennsylvania, chair

  • Ann Sherif, Oberlin College, “Who Reads Filial Piety Books? The Case of Ehon kobun k?ky? in the Tress Collection”
  • Andrew Gerstle, SOAS University of London, Emeritus, “Kamigata Surimono and the Performing Arts”
  • Satoko Shimazaki, University of California, Los Angeles, “Early Modern Print and the Voice of the Theater” (remote)

12:10-1:10pm: Lunch break

1:10pm: Keynote address

Introduction by Frederick Dickinson, University of Pennsylvania

  • Peter Kornicki, Cambridge University emeritus, “From Ashmead to Tress: The Secrets of the UPenn Collection of Japanese Books” (remote) 

2:25pm: Break

2:30pm: Session 3 

David Spafford, University of Pennsylvania, chair

  • Shigeru Oikawa, Japan Women’s University, Emeritus, “Kyôsai hyakki gadan in the Arthur Tress Collection”
  • Jeannie Kenmotsu, Portland Museum of Art, “Flowers, Birds, Insects, Fish: Illustrating Nature in the Tress Collection”

3:30pm: Coffee break

3:50pm: Session 4 

Erin Schoneveld, Haverford College, chair

  • Michael Emmerich, University of California, Los Angeles, "The End of Kusazoshi" (remote)
  • Alessandro Bianchi, Bodleian Library, “Japanese Illustrated Books and Orientalist Bookbinding: The Case of the ‘Gillet’ Covers”
  • Amaury A. García Rodríguez, Director del Centro de Estudios de Asia y África, El Colegio de México, “Selling and Collecting Japanese Illustrated Books in Mexico at the Beginning of the Twentieth Century: José Juan Tablada”

5:10pm: Break

5:30pm: Closing Event

  • Remarks by Constantia Constantinou, H. Carlton Rogers III Vice Provost and Director of the Penn Libraries
  • Collector and photographer Arthur Tress (remote) and Julie Nelson Davis, Exhibition Curator and specialist in ukiyoe, Penn History of Art, in conversation