Online Lecture: Introducing the Arthur Tress Collection of Japanese Illustrated Books at the University of Pennsylvania

Third Thursday lecture - Sainsbury Institute

Thursday 18 March, 2021
6:00pm GMT


Professor Julie Nelson Davis (University of Pennsylvania)

Arthur Tress (Photographer and collector)

Recording of the talk

About the Talk

In June 2018, photographer Arthur Tress donated his collection of over 1300 Japanese illustrated books to the University of Pennsylvania Libraries. The collection includes examples from the seventeenth through the twentieth centuries in all genres and formats. One of the largest at any university, in scope and quality it ranks on par with collections held in the New York Public Library, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Pulverer Collection, and others. In this talk, Arthur Tress and Julie Davis will talk about how Arthur grew the collection and discuss selected examples from the collection. Davis will also share how she is using the collection in teaching, preparing a future exhibition, and collaborating with Kislak curators and cataloguers. Davis and Tress will also say a few words about the recent gift of his photographs to the Kislak Center.

You can view the website for the collection here:

About the Speakers

Arthur Tress is an internationally recognized photographer and longtime collector of Japanese illustrated books. As a photographer, Tress is best known for works that explore the human condition through staged as well as found scenes that represent the uncanny in the everyday as well as capture the humor, fragility, and pathos of our world. Tress began collecting Japanese illustrated books on his first trip to Japan in 1965, assembling the collection “on an artist’s shoestring budget,” and has exhibited the collection on numerous occasions. 

Julie Nelson Davis is Professor of the History of Modern East Asian Art at the University of Pennsylvania and Editor-in-Chief for Davis was a SISJAC fellow and is the author of Utamaro and the Spectacle of Beauty (Reaktion Books, 2007 and 2021), Partners in Print: Artistic Collaboration and the Ukiyo-e Market (University of Hawai’i Press, 2015), and Picturing the Floating World: Ukiyo-e in Context (in press). Davis is currently working on two new projects: one on imitation, homage, and fakery in early modern Japanese art and the second on Hokusai as a book illustrator.

This event is part of the Japan-UK Season of Culture 2019-2020

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The Third Thursday Lecture series is funded by the Gatsby Charitable Foundation, the Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation and Yakult UK.