Sign up for our free newsletter
Free D.C. news, delivered to your inbox daily.
Centuries of art history are defined by movements such as pop art and impressionism that made high art available to the masses. Japan’s Edo movement is a predecessor to both. From 1615n1868, decorated ceramics and woodblock prints became affordable to average people in the city of Edo, modern-day Tokyo. The Freer Gallery of Art’s small exhibit “Japanese Arts of the Edo Period” samples the many ways art in Japan—including poetry, theater, and decorative arts— changed during this period of peace and increasing isolation. Raku pottery, with its ashen glazes, shows how once utilitarian items became objets d’art. Other objects give viewers clues to Japanese life at the time: A folding screen shows a trained monkey performing a dance for a crowd of onlookers; another has geishas for every season, like an antique pinup calendar. A depiction on a scroll of Japanese women airing out books on clotheslines—a yearly ritual—is hardly as glamorous as previous eras’ paintings of emperors and samurai, but the scene is portrayed with just as much care and detail. The exhibition is on view from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily, to Thursday, Feb. 28, 2008, at the Freer Gallery of Art, 12th St. & Jefferson Drive SW. Free. (202) 633-4880.