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Immediately following the arrival of Commodore Matthew Perry’s “black ships” in 1853, Japan cast aside its self-imposed isolation from the international community and embarked upon an unprecedented program of modernization. The nation, under the leadership of Emperor Meiji, embraced not only Western social and political institutions but also artistic ones. For some artists however, the pace of change was too sudden and they reasserted the importance of traditional themes and styles. This exhibition in the Japanese Painting Galleries explores the creative tensions that often led to such exciting syntheses of East and West.