It is with great pleasure that the Johnson Museum once again presents an exhibition drawn from the collection of Rodney “Pete” and Marge Henricksen. The Henricksens formed their collection while living in Japan in the 1960s and early 1970s, a particularly opportune time and place to collect. The first exhibition, organized in 2002, focused on Chinese paintings, while this exhibition features Japanese paintings ranging in date from the late Edo period (1615–1868) and Meiji Restoration (1868–1912) to the Taisho and Showa periods before 1940.
Assembling the collection was not simply due to chance or luck; rather it was the result of the passion two people had for collecting works that resonated with their tastes and interests. Others who were in Japan at the same time might have gone to shops once a month; the Henricksens went every week for a decade. They got to know the dealers and established a rapport with them, eventually being allowed to go to the antique dealers’ own markets, where they watched and participated in the bargaining and swapping that went on. The constant exercise of judgment in matters of taste allowed the collection to grow in quality and number.
The Japanese paintings in the collection present a broad range of styles and subject matter, from calligraphy and landscapes of the Kano and nanga schools to elegant works that highlight details of nature such as birds, flowers, vegetables, and insects. Many of the paintings offer heroic, idealized, or humorous depictions of legendary characters at the heart of traditional Japanese culture: from gods and sages to beauties, actors, and samurai.
The Museum learned of this collection from Sewall Oertling, professor emeritus of art history, SUNY Oswego, who guest-curated both exhibitions and authored both accompanying catalogues. We are indeed grateful to Sewall for his dedication to these projects. Above all, our sincere appreciation goes to the Henricksens, for sharing these works of art with the public.
Chief Curator and Curator of Asian Art