Made in Japan: 20th Century Poster Art & Design 
March 2–September 10, 2023

The content and style of twentieth century Japanese poster design is illustrative of Japan’s rich visual culture and printmaking tradition that values collaboration and creative vision among artists, designers, publishers, printers, patrons, and their audiences. While rooted in the ukiyo-e tradition of woodblock printing, Japanese posters of the twentieth century are also defined by their synthesis of commercial and fine art, as well as advancements in printing technologies.

Tracing the history of twentieth century Japanese poster art and design is an exciting and challenging endeavor. Two world wars coupled with rapid industrialization, urbanization, and the emergence of mass culture fundamentally transformed modern Japanese society. Japan’s specific journey as both an aggressor and victim of war, and as an international player on the global stage, catalyzed the continuous need to brand and rebrand Japan’s national image. 

This exhibition traces the cultural shifts and technological transformations of Japanese poster design by exploring the fluid space in which painting, woodblock prints, fashion, film, photography, mass culture, and politics were responding to and in dialogue with the commercial economies and processes of print production and graphic design.

This exhibition comes to Poster House through a generous loan from the Merrill C. Berman Collection.

Selected Images
photo offset poster of a gold computer motherboard overlaid with the word japan
Japan, 1988
Kamekura Yūsaku
lithographic poster of men's clothing against a yellow background
Nikke, c. 1930
Okuyama Gihachiro
photo offset poster of a man carrying an olympic torch against a sunrise
XVIII Olympic Games, 1964
Kamekura Yusaku
photo offset poster of a geisha's face made up of geometric shapes
Nihon Buyo, 1981
Ikkō Tanaka
silkscreen poster of a naked woman skydiving toward a giant peach while a man with a top hat leans toward another woman
Petticoat Osen: A Tale of Forgetfulness, 1966
Yokoo Tadanori
silkscreen poster of a geometric demon running toward the left
Kazumasa Nagai Design Life, 1993
Nagai Kazumasa
photo offset poster of butterflies falling from the sky with their wings on fire
Hiroshima Appeals, 1983
Kamekura Yūsaku
silkscreen poster of a nude female torso holding flowers to her chest as multiple other women are illustrated against a psychedelic background
PB Grand Prix, 1968
Tanaami Keiichi