Awakenings: Zen Figure Painting in Medieval Japan

March 27, 2007
past event image
Gallery past event

The United States’ first major international exhibition of its kind in more than three decades, Awakenings presented Japanese(Zen) and Chinese (Chan) Buddhist art, featured a Japanese National Treasure and major cultural assets, and included rare loans from museum and private collections in Japan, North America, and Europe. Exploring the artistically singular yet still poorly understood tradition of figure painting in Zen Buddhist communities in medieval Japan, the exhibition featured forty-seven superlative Chinese and Japanese works of painting, ranging from the 12th to 16th century.

Awakenings: Zen Figure Painting in Medieval Japan was co-curated by Gregory Levine, Associate Professor, Department of History of Art, University of California, Berkeley; and Yukio Lippit, Assistant Professor, Department of the History of Art & Architecture, Harvard University. Yoshiaki Shimizu, Professor of Japanese Art History, Princeton University served as senior advisor to the exhibition.

Awakenings: Zen Figure Painting in Medieval Japan was organized by Japan Society, the Agency for Cultural Affairs of Japan and the Independent Administrative Institution National Museum of Japan (Tokyo National Museum, Kyoto National Museum, Nara National Museum and Kyushu National Museum).

This exhibition was generously funded by a grant from the E. Rhodes & Leona B. Carpenter Foundation.

Additional support was provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, Jack and Susy Wadsworth, The Blakemore Foundation, Chris Wachenheim, the Asian Cultural Council, the Leadership Committee for Awakenings: Zen Figure Painting in Medieval Japan, The Blakemore Foundation, the New York State Council on the Arts, the Mary Livingston Griggs and Mary Griggs Burke Foundation, the Abbot Tani Foundation, and The Cowles Charitable Trust.

This exhibition was supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.



As part of the Millennium on View program, Millennium UN Plaza is the preferred hotel partner of Japan Society’s Centennial.


Exhibitions at the Japan Society are also made possible in part by the Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Endowment Fund and the Friends of the Gallery. Installations at Japan Society Gallery are supported by a generous gift from Henry Cornell.

  • March 27, 2007 – June 17, 2007