USC Pacific Asia Museum

Join Donate
46 North Los Robles Avenue
Pasadena, California 91101
Open Wednesday through Sunday 10am to 6pm
Translations Chinese Simple Chinese Traditional Japanese Korean Espanol
USC Pacific Asia Museum
Collection Highlight

Join our Mailing List

Lotus by Hannah Erskine



Ikko Style: The Graphic Art of Ikko Tanaka

April 2 through August 2, 2015
in The Changing Exhibition Galleries
Ikko Style

Focusing on the core of his artistic practice, poster design, Ikko Style will provide a colorful look into how Ikko TANAKA's ideas were visualized and transmitted to a broad audience. Over 30 posters will be on view, all of which are part of the museum's permanent collection and will be exhibited for the first time.
Tanaka's style is provocative yet timeless, drawing visual idioms from his cultural background and redefining them with the collective imagination of the present time. Born in Nara, the cradle of Japanese civilization, educated in Kyoto, the imperial capital and the cultural hub of Japan, and starting his career in Osaka, the city of commerce and art patronage, Tanaka was well situated to be a successful graphic master in Tokyo, an international metropolis.
As a relentless promoter of visual expression, Tanaka strove to achieve universal aesthetic value beyond regional or cultural barriers, which can be seen in his countless designs of posters, logos, trademarks, books and packages. Through his vision, forms drawn from traditional ukiyo-e (pictures of the floating world) were reduced into striking abstract designs to promote cultural events. Using his aptitude for understanding visual elements from any form, Japanese written characters were transformed into effective and innovative graphic tools. Through Tanaka's celebrated work with fashion designers and corporations including Hanae Mori and Issey Miyake and Mazda Corporation, Tanaka was able to bridge the gap between fine art and the commercial sector.

Ikko TANAKA (1930-2002), Close-up of Japan, London 1985, Japan, 1985, Offset. Gift of Tanaka Ikko Design Room, 1990.9.5.

Visualizing Enlightenment: Decoding the Buddhist IconographyAmida Buddha

March 20 through July 24, 2015
in The Focus Gallery

Visualizing Enlightenment focuses on an exceptional Amitabha (or Amida Buddha) from the Kamakura period (1185-1333) in Japan. Over 6-feet tall, Amitabha is a rare example of such large scale in existence and was executed using the technique yosegi, in which a single image is carved from multiple pieces of wood that are joined together from the inside. Amitabha, "Limitless Light" in Sanskrit, is the Buddha of the western Pure Land and one of the most widely worshipped Buddhas in the Mahayana tradition due to its doctrine that assured salvation to commoners.

Buddhist art comprises a tremendous range of objects from paintings to sculptures to ritual objects. Images such as Amitabha have served as powerful pedagogical tools to help visualize the teachings and philosophical ideas of the religion. The intricately carved body halo and elegant lotus pedestal where the Buddha gracefully stands give a glimpse of the purified Buddha-field of Amitabha. The calmness and compassion of the Buddha's facial expression gently affirms that all sentient beings can attain salvation through their faith in him. Every feature of the Buddha, from ushinisha (the bump of knowledge) to elongate earlobes and mudra (hand gesture), carefully follows the existing canon to illustrate him as an enlightened being, thereby encouraging the worshippers to follow his teachings. This small exhibition aims to explain some of the most commonly known iconography in Buddhist art with this prime example of Amitabha from the 13th century.



Amitabha, Japan, Kamakura Period (1185-1333): First half of the 13th century, Wood, lacquer, gilt, Gift of Sharon Pierce in loving memory of her son, J. Christopher Johnson, Conservation funds provided by Sharon Pierce and the Collectors' Circle, 2013.6.1