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By Scott Roberto / September 21, 12:00 AM
Taking Sides
Utagawa Kuniyoshi, The Former Emperor [Sutoku] from Sanuki Sends His Retainers to Rescue Tametomo, about 1851–52


Team Kuniyoshi or Team Kunisada? That’s the all-in-fun rivalry at the center of the latest display of masterful Japanese prints at the Museum of Fine Arts. Showdown! Kuniyoshi vs. Kunisada presents more than 100 works of the two contemporaries, who dominated the world of ukiyo-e (“pictures of the floating world”) woodblock prints in 19th century Japan. From kabuki actors to historic tableaus to outright flights of fancy, images of incredible detail and vibrant color are presented to visitors, who can then take a quiz—either in the gallery or online—to determine which of these iconic artists is their favorite. Spoiler alert: Cat lovers will probably gravitate toward Kuniyoshi, whose fantastical and sometimes satirical designs often depicted felines, whether cleverly clustered in skull-like designs or presented in gigantic, demonic form. It’s no wondered that he—although not as revered in his lifetime as Kunisada—is cited as an influence on the Japanese anime and manga of today.

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