Discover the Japanese Samurai at the Cincinnati Art Museum

12/19/2016 12:00:00 AM

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CINCINNATI — The Cincinnati Art Museum is proud to present an in-depth look at the historical and cultural influence of Japan’s Samurai in the exhibition Dressed to Kill: Japanese Arms and Armor,
Feb. 11–May 7, 2017. More than 130 warrior-related objects from the 16th to 19th centuries will be on display from the Cincinnati Art Museum’s collections and first-ever loans from the outstanding holdings of collector Gary Grose.

Samurai began as skillful provincial warriors before rising to power as members of the powerful military caste in feudal Japan. Their traditional moral principles, known as bushidō or “the way of the warrior,” stressed loyalty, mastery of martial arts and honor until the death.

Dressed to Kill aims to reveal the true story and deepen the understanding of the warrior-nobles of Japan. Contrasted with popular depictions, the context and understanding of Samurai is integral to Japanese art history.

This exhibition features 11 full suits of armor including one commissioned for a youth between ages 11 and 13, weapons, banners, costumes, prints and paintings, many on view for the first time. Celebrating Japanese art and fine craftsmanship, this exhibition explores the powerful impact of Samurai ideals, principles and power that influenced the historical and cultural development of Japan.

Cincinnati Art Museum Curator of Asian Art Dr. Hou-Mei Sung organized this rare look into Samurai. “Dressed to Kill is an eye-opening exhibition intended to separate Samurai fact from fiction,” says Sung. “We hope to contribute a unique and deeply impactful historical depiction of the role Samurai warriors played in Japanese culture.”

The Cincinnati Art Museum houses one of the oldest and most extensive Japanese art collections among all U.S. museums.

Transcending Reality: The Woodcuts of Kōsaka Gajin

Running concurrently, Transcending Reality: The Woodcuts of Kōsaka Gajin celebrates the Cincinnati Art Museum’s Howard and Caroline Porter Collection, the largest repository of the woodcuts of Kōsaka Gajin outside the family in Tokyo, Japan.

Transcending Reality captures the beauty of Japan’s landscape and architectural monuments in a manner that is modern in its individualized expression as well as related stylistically to European and American abstract painting. The exhibition will be shown next to Dressed to Kill in Western & Southern Gallery 233.

Joint special exhibition tickets allows entry to both Dressed to Kill and Transcending Reality. All ticketed exhibitions are free for museum members. Non-members may purchase tickets online or at the art museum. $10 ticket for adults; $5 for children ages 6–17 and college students with ID. Other discounts available.

About Gary Grose

Gary Grose is a Japanese arms and armor collector in the Cincinnati area. Growing up in Seattle, Wash., Grose was exposed to Asian culture at a young age through relationships he built with his two Japanese aunts, one of whom was a member of a Samurai family in Kyoto.

After living in Japan for five years, Grose began his collection under the guidance of regional collectors who resided in Seattle including experts in Japanese sword polishing and tsuba, the decorative and protective round guard on the grip of a sword. By sharing his collection, Grose hopes to educate and ultimately stimulate interest and appreciation for Japanese culture in the region.

Third Annual Cincinnati Asian Art Society Lecture
Take a peek behind the mask with four unique perspectives in this lecture inspired by Dressed to Kill at the third annual Cincinnati Asian Art Society Lecture Samurai Culture: Multiple Perspectives on April 2, 2017 at 2 p.m. Join Curator of Asian Art Dr. Hou-Mei Sung, collector Gary Grose, conservator Betsy Allaire, and scholar Nancy McGowan for this closer look at the amazing world of Japanese Samurai arms and armor and the culture that inspired it. FREE. Reservations required.

A special Art After Dark event on Friday, Feb. 24, 5–9 p.m., will feature the Dressed to Kill and Transcending Reality exhibitions. Free admission to both exhibitions will be provided during this event and every Thursday during the exhibitions’ run, 5–8 p.m. Tours, programs and additional events can be found at

About Cincinnati Art Museum

The Cincinnati Art Museum is supported by the generosity of individuals and businesses that give annually to ArtsWave. The Ohio Arts Council helps fund the Cincinnati Art Museum with state tax dollars to encourage economic growth, educational excellence and cultural enrichment for all Ohioans. The Cincinnati Art Museum gratefully acknowledges operating support from the City of Cincinnati, as well as our members.

General admission to the Cincinnati Art Museum is always free. The museum is open Tuesday–Sunday, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. with extended Thursday hours until 8 p.m.

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