Arthur Tress and the Japanese Illustrated Book

Exhibition opening and reception: September 30, 2022, 5:30pm

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Exhibition symposium, "Arthur Tress and the Japanese Illustrated Book: A Celebration," September 29-30, 2022

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September 29, 2022 10:00 am - December 16, 2022 5:00 pm - @ Goldstein Family Gallery, Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center, sixth floor
Book stand holds two Japanese illustrated books with artwork

In June 2018 renowned contemporary photographer Arthur Tress generously donated his collection of Japanese illustrated books and prints to the University of Pennsylvania Libraries. Totaling over one thousand titles and representing nearly four hundred years of publishing history, Tress’s collection spans the historical range of the Japanese illustrated book. This exhibition presents highlights from the collection, including seventeenth century manuscripts, evocative landscape studies and painting manuals, poetry coterie books and comic novels, as well as modern design and textile studies.

Imagined as a study collection, Tress’s gift formed the backbone of three curatorial seminars where undergraduate and graduate students alike engaged with the rich cultural and intellectual history of the Japanese book. Displaying a selection of Japanese books along with Tress’s own photography, this exhibition places the Japanese illustrated book into conversation with Tress’s photographs. The exhibition engages Tress’s practices as both artist and collector, juxtaposing the two media to present moments of unexpected visual poetry that resonate across geographic place and time.


Plan Your Visit

This exhibition is free and open to the public and located in the Goldstein Gallery on the 6th floor of the Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center at the University of Pennsylvania Libraries. Gallery hours are from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on weekdays. 

Penn faculty, staff, and students must swipe their PennCard for access. Visitors from outside the Penn community must present a a current, valid government or school-issued photo I.D. that contains an expiration date. Find more information to plan your visit

Image of Tress Collection Box 17, item 11- Umi no sachi

About the Collection

The Arthur Tress Collection of Japanese Illustrated Books includes over 1,400 titles dating from the late 17th century through the 1930s, with examples of every book genre produced and printed in Japan.

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Black and white self-portrait photograph of Arthur Tress

An Artist and Collector

An acclaimed and original photographer in addition to an avid collector, Arthur Tress gained inspiration for his own artistic vision through the illustrated books he collected.

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