Gyotaku Print - John Dory, Zeus faber

Eric Hochberg1985

Museums Victoria

Museums Victoria

Dr Eric Hochberg was the 1985 Thomas Ramsay Science & Humanities Fellow at Museum Victoria. He specialises in the traditional Japanese nature printing technique, Gyotaku. The objective of nature printing is to express the essence of nature through the medium of paper or cloth and ink. Fishermen would make gyotaku to preserve records of their catches. The oldest recorded gyotaku dates back to 1862 when Lord Sakai of the Yamagata prefecture, having harvested a particularly large catch in a single night, made prints of large red sea bream.

In Gyotaku, the simple elegance of common subjects is preferred. Whether weed, shell, or fish, each animal or plant has its own unique texture, shape and energy; by isolating the subject in the negative space on a sheet of paper this signature can be identified. The results are zen-like renderings that praise the diversity and beauty of nature.

Hochberg's works recreate schools of fishes, depth perspectives of plants and a sense of motion and life. There are two methods of Gyotaku; the indirect method involves placing the paper on top of a prepared specimen, and then applying the ink to the paper using a small cloth blotter. The final result is an accurately-sized, slightly abstract impression. The direct method, which Hochberg uses here, differs from the indirect in that the ink is applied to the specimen and then the paper is applied. The result is an exact replica of the specimen. The specimen was purchased by the artist from Queen Victoria Market.

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  • Title: Gyotaku Print - John Dory, Zeus faber
  • Date Created: 1985
  • Physical Dimensions: w767 x h919 mm (Framed)
  • Type: Image
  • Rights: Copyright: Eric Hochberg, Source: Museum Victoria, Artist: Eric Hochberg, Copyright: Eric Hochberg, Source: Museum Victoria
  • External Link: Museum Victoria
  • Medium: Nature Print; Ink on Paper
  • Themes: scientific illustrations; natural sciences; fish
  • Artist biography: Dr. F.G. (Eric) Hochberg is one of the leading nature printers in the United States. He started printing in 1968 and has studied and worked with printmakers in the United States, Canada, Japan, Thailand, Taiwan, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. He was instrumental in founding the Nature Printing Society in 1976. He organised and curated the first group exhibition of nature prints by American and Japanese artists for the National Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian Institution. The exhibit, Pressed on Paper, opened in 1981 and toured for 6 years throughout North America and Australia through the auspices of the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES). In 1985 he was selected for a Thomas Ramsay Science and Humanities Scholarship which enabled him to spend a year as an Artist-in-Residence at the Museum of Victoria in Melbourne, Australia. During the year he prepared a portfolio of prints of Australian plants and animals for the museum. His work has been included in numerous solo and group exhibitions, including a major exhibit on the History of Nature Printing in the National Museum of American History at the Smithsonian and a large exhibition that he curated in 2000, Impressions of Nature, at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History. His prints are represented in private, corporate, and museum collections in North America, Europe, Australia, and Japan. For the last 25 years he has lectured extensively on the history and techniques of nature printing, and has taught numerous workshops throughout the United States, Canada, France, Spain, Germany, Japan, Australia, and Thailand. Eric Hochberg received a Ph.D in Biology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He is a Curator and Head of the Department of Invertebrate Zoology at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History. His research interests include the taxonomy, biology, and behavior of octopuses and squids, parasites of marine animals (dicyemids, ciliate and coccidian protozoans, etc.), marine cnidarians and brachiopods, and land snails on the mainland and islands off California.
  • Artist: Eric Hochberg


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