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Tattoo you!

Posted by Sebastian Smee  April 13, 2010 04:05 PM

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5_Onitsutaya.jpgBoston is in the grip of a tattoo craze. Tomorrow a show of the Mexican tattoo artist Dr. Lakra opens at the Institute of Contemporary Art. If you like the idea of Shepard Fairey's flair for enlivening retro imagery combined with great dollops of sex and death, you'll enjoy it. But be sure to go as well to the Museum of Fine Arts, which has a brilliant small show called "Under the Skin: Tattoos in Japanese Prints," exploring the craze for tattoos that swept through 19th Century Japan - largely inspired by the prints of the great artist Utigawa Kuniyoshi. Interestingly, some of Dr. Lakra's detailed drawings of tattoos have been superimposed on 18th and 19th century Japanese prints. This, and the fascination with an underground, demotic imagery that is more authentic than traditional fine art - not to mention erotic and at times astonishingly beautiful - make the two shows a perfect fit. It's all the more ironic that they're showing together in Boston when you consider that the ban on tattooing in Massachusetts was overturned only 10 years ago. .

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Culture Desk is a blog that serves to highlight both local and national stories of interest in the worlds of art, music, movies, TV, theater and more. Most items are written by writers and editors from The Boston Globe arts and culture staff.

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