Worcester Art Museum (Worcester, MA)

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The image depicts a landscape under dar skies and a golden moon.  In the foreground a highly textured plane showing wheat fields in black and white

Silence No.1 (2002) by katsunori Hamanishi one of the works on display during the Worcester Art Museum's exhibition Japanese Masters of Mezzotint. Image courtesy of Worcester Art Museum

Founded in 1896, the Worcester Art Museum (WAM) in Massachusetts is one of the largest art museums in New England, housing nearly 35,000 objects spanning 50 centuries. WAM also acts as a center of art education, providing classes and public programs for a variety of audiences. In the past decade, WAM has been successful in diversifying its collection, adding significant pieces of African American and Southeast Asian art.

In FY 2004, WAM received an NEA Challenge America grant of $10,000 to support the exhibition Japanese Masters of Mezzotint: Yozo Hamaguchi and Katsunori Hamanishi from September 6 through November 28, 2004. These two 20th-century artists elevated the difficult art of mezzotint, a 300-year-old European form of printmaking in which images are produced through subtle gradations of dark and light rather than line. The exhibition provided the opportunity to present an uncommon art form to the public, and also to explore contemporary Asian culture and art.

The artists’ mezzotints display tones ranging from deepest black to white and the selective use of rich colors. Hamaguchi celebrated the delicate beauty of the vessels, fruits, vegetables, and insects that he appreciated while living in France. In Hamanishi’s prints, constructed objects and natural forms of elemental shapes are juxtaposed as they emerge out of darkness, suggesting cryptic riddles.

Hamanishi flew from Japan to Worcester for the opening of the exhibition, and conducted a public demonstration workshop of his technique.

(From the 2004 NEA Annual Report)