Women on Stage and Swaggering Youths:
The Birth of Kabuki
in 17th-Century Japanese Folding Screens
Matthew McKelway, PhD
Takeo and Itsuko Atsumi Professor of Japanese Art History, Director of Art Humanities, Columbia University
the Columbia University Undergraduate Program in Paris, and the Columbia Global Centers Paris
Reid Hall, March 27, 7pm
free and open to all
This lecture will present a newly discovered pair of screens depicting two of the most famous sites in early 17th century Kyoto, Kitano Shrine and a Kabuki theater on the Kamo Riverbank.
Among the many questions that emerge from an analysis of the screens is the original location of the Kabuki theater in Kyoto, which until now has remained unclear. A "reading" of the images allows us to date them to around 1607, when the performer Izumo no Okuni led her troupe in performances in various locations in the capital. The lecture will also consider why depictions of shrine precincts and the riverbank were paired in the first place, and what their depiction may have meant to viewers at a time of political and social unrest in Kyoto.
Matthew McKelway (Ph.D. Columbia, 1999) specializes in the history of late medieval and early modern Japanese painting. His research on urban representation in rakuchū rakugai zu (screen paintings of Kyoto) has led more broadly to interests in the development of early modern genre painting in depictions of famous places, the early Kabuki theater, and recently Nanban screens. His studies of Kano school fan paintings, individualist painters in 18th century Kyoto, and Rimpa painting have explored questions of workshop practices, the materiality and techniques of painting, Sinophilia, and Zen in early modern Japanese art. He is currently working on a retrospective exhibition of the painter Nagasawa Rosetsu to be held at the Rietberg Museum in Zürich in fall 2018