Surimono literally means "printed things". This simple designation is somewhat misleading, for what distinguishes surimono are the particularly lavish printing techniques and rich palette of coulors, including metallic pigments. The most marked difference between surimono and other Japanese woodcuts, however, is the way poem and image complement each other. Individual poets and poetry clubs commissioned renowned woodcut artists to create visual interpretations of their poems. This imaginative interplay of text and image resulted in works of art that encourage viewers, often in a witty or humorous way, to puzzle over meaning. It was customary to print surimono in small numbers for the New Year and to present them to friends as greeting cards.
The Lusy Collection of surimono, including many previously unknown prints, is presented and published for the first time in a comprehensive manner in this exhibition. Marino Lusy (1880-1954), himself a graphic artist, bequeathed his valuable collection of over 300 prints to the Museum für Gestaltung Zürich; today these works are on permanent loan to the Museum Rietberg.
Accompanying the exhibition is a scholarly catalogue in English edited by John T. Carpenter, published by Brill/Hotei Publishing, Leiden. The research project "Surimono" has been supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation/DORE; Institute for Cultural Studies in the Arts, ZHdK, in cooperation with the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures.