More than 40 years ago, Arthur R. Miller introduced Linda Silberman to the intricacies of civil procedure. She was then his student and research assistant at the University of Michigan Law School. Some years later, Silberman introduced Miller -- who had become a long-term friend -- to Japanese woodblock prints. At the time, she had a small collection of works by 19th century artist Tsukioka Yoshitoshi. But it was the works of Utagawa Kuniyoshi that really caught Miller's eye, and over the next 30 years, he went on to amass one of the largest Kuniyoshi collections in the world. Like Yoshitoshi, Kuniyoshi was a master of the "floating world" genre of Japanese art. And fittingly, Silberman notes, Kuniyoshi was Yoshitoshi's teacher.
Fast forward to the present: Miller and Silberman are both members of the Law School faculty, he as a University Professor, and she as the Martin Lipton Professor of Law. And in 2008, Miller donated 1,800 Kuniyoshi prints to the British Museum. Last spring the Royal Academy of Arts in London displayed 150 of them in a highly attended exhibition. Now that exhibit -- "Graphic Heros, Magic Monsters: Japanese Prints of Utagawa Kuniyoshi from the Arthur R. Miller collection" -- has come to the Japan Society in New York, where it will be on display until June 19.
And what of Silberman's Yoshitoshi prints? "I have a wonderful collection, but nothing on the scale of Arthur's Kuniyoshi collection," she says. Still, she adds, "like many collectors, I would be happy to have some of my prints exhibited one day."
Posted April 8, 2010