Posters have been at the heart of film advertising for more than a century. While their styles have evolved over the years and from place to place, they have always generated excitement among all who love to go to the movies. Today, as the Internet takes an increasingly prominent role in advertising media, a movement is underway to restore the movie poster as an art form existing outside the realm of advertising.
At the forefront of this movement is Mondo, a company based in Austin, Texas, U.S.A. Mondo commissions keenly perceptive designers and illustrators to create original posters that transcend the boundaries between “old” and “new” movies. Mondo was established in 2004 as a T-shirt store affiliated with the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema chain. Since then, it has produced movie soundtracks, artworks, and other film-related items. But more than anything else, it is its screen-printed movie posters―sold as limited-edition merchandise through its online store―that have attracted passionate fans around the world.
MONDO: The Front Runner of Film Poster Art is the ninth in a series of film poster exhibitions held jointly by The National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto and the National Film Archive of Japan. It will present 71 posters provided by the Mondo art collective. Their subjects will cover everything from silent movies to the latest productions. While Mondo’s posters retain the essence of the original films, that each artist’s individual style has been respected is unmistakable. The result is a collection that is in no way uniform. We invite you to enter the world of “alternative posters,” a domain distinctly different from advertising, by seeing the actual prints, each rich with texture.
Twenty twenty-two marks the 50th anniversary of the death of Kaburaki Kiyokata (1878-1972), an artist who is esteemed for his bijinga (pictures of beautiful women), which rank with the work of Uemura Shoen. This commemorative exhibition, a major retrospective of Kaburaki’s works made up of 109 Nihonga (Japanese-style) paintings, marks the first time that a retrospective of this scale has ever been held at this museum, and the first time in 45 years that one has been held in Kyoto.
Born in Tokyo at a time when it still retained strong characteristics of Edo (as the city was known until 1868), Kaburaki, a genuine Meiji-era Tokyoite, created a host of works dealing with Edo and Tokyo throughout his life. One of Kaburaki’s most notable works, Tsukiji Akashi-cho Town, disappeared for many years until eventually resurfacing in 2018. Not only is this one of the artist’s preeminent works, it is also considered to be one of the finest examples of bijinga in the history of modern Japanese painting. As the painting and two others works, which came to light at the same time, Hama-cho Gashi Zone and Shintomi-cho Town, are contained in the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo Collection, it was possible for us to present the trilogy at the National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto (which is affiliated with the Tokyo facility) for the entire exhibition period. In addition to Kaburaki’s genres paintings of Edo and Tokyo, he is known for works that deal with literature, drama, kabuki, and rakugo storytelling. The artist developed a deep familiarity with these themes as a child under the influence of his father Jono Saigiku, a writer of popular fiction who was also involved in establishing the Tokyo Nichinichi Shimbun (Tokyo Daily News), the forerunner to the Mainichi Shimbun. Also on view throughout the exhibition will be Kaburaki’s works Scene from the Kabuki Play Nozaki-mura and Portrait of Higuchi Ichiyo. We hope you will enjoy viewing the full scope of Kaburaki Kiyokata’s work, which extends far beyond the realm of bijinga.
The Collection Gallery exhibits selected works of nihonga (Japanese-style painting), yōga (Western-style painting), prints, sculpture, crafts (ceramics, textiles, metalworks, wood and bamboo works, lacquers and jewelry) and photography from the museum collection. Also shown are outstanding and monumental works of modern art in Japan, as well as modern and contemporary European and American art.