Evolving Japanese Prints

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This user gallery has been created by an independent third party and may not represent the views of the institutions whose collections include the featured works or of Google Arts & Culture.

In this gallery I will be exploring and showing you a large variety of Japanese printing techniques and pieces. Japanese prints influenced me at a young age, as my grandparents were collector's of many pieces, and a very large variety of them. I will be exploring their varied use of space, depth, form, and color as many of the different styles and artists have a similar tone that you are able to recognize as a Japanese print, but all have a different take on the art style, which leads to a beautiful diversity in their creations. The main style that I will be exploring are Ukiyo-e (The floating world), which was very popular during the Edo period, 1700s-1900s, which is a woodblock technique. And I will be comparing that to a more modern take on Japanese prints. 

Kaigetsudō Anchi, Courtesan, a woodblock print, 1711/1714, From the collection of: British Museum
The first piece I have chosen, is a very traditional Japanese woodblock print. As you can see there is a very heavy influence from Japanese culture in the piece, by the artists use of the Kimono and the cherry blossom print within the Kimono. Moving on from this piece, we will see how very important Japanese culture is within its art.
Kitagawa Utamaro, Parody of Narihira's Journey to the East, a triptych of colour woodblock prints, 1797/1798, From the collection of: British Museum
This second piece is in the Ukiyo-e style, having a prominent foreground, but still leaving enough to be noticed in the background. But, once again Japanese culture is in the forefront, expressing the Samurai and feudal culture. While also placing mount Fuji in the background leaving the most noticeable landmark in Japan.
Toto Sanjurokkei - Fukagawa Hachiman, Artist: Utagawa Hiroshige, -1/1, From the collection of: Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
This piece is by Utagawa Hiroshige, who was one of the masters of Ukiyo-e. Ukiyo-e is very similar to the art of the impressionists, he would sketch what he saw, but had to take it back to his studio to print it, but the purpose was to capture the moment. But this is one of the best examples of the style, with the seemingly gradual floating back of the objects and forms into the horizon, with a very prominent form in the foreground. While also having a very heavy focus on Japanese culture, with the very traditional clothing, the post and lintel architecture and the cherry blossoms.
The Road Below the Rakan Temple in Buzen Province, 1853–1856, From the collection of: Dallas Museum of Art
This next piece, was also made by Hiroshige but this is where I noticed a little bit more focus on the colors used in the Ukiyo-e art. In most Japanese prints there is a lot of beige left from the paper, but now there are many more powerful colors chosen, really influences a more dynamic art style.
View of the Shnobazunoike Pond, Edo, Shiba Kōkan, 1784, From the collection of: Kobe City Museum
This piece departs from the Ukiyo-e style but still has a few similar tropes. This piece is much more representational than the most of the Ukiyo-e prints, it focuses more on actual distance rendering and having a very set horizon line. But still it has that impressionist like trait of capturing the moment. While the piece isn't a completely different style to the Ukiyo-e, I believe that it is important to notice that many of the prints were far more representational, instead of focusing the the culture of the Japanese people which leads to that very distinct style in their prints.
Kujukushima island, Shimabara, from the series Selection of scenes of Japan, Artist: Kawase Hasui, Publisher: S. Watanabe Color Print Co., 1922, From the collection of: Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
I picked this piece, because it is nearing the end of the Edo period and the Ukiyo-e style, but this piece seems as if it is a happy medium between the more representational style from the piece before and the Ukiyo-e style. From the reflection of the clouds in the water and the people in the boat, it was meant to correctly portray the image that the artist saw. But still, there choices like the color and changing depth choices that belong with the Ukiyo-e style. It is interesting to see how artists adopted the styles and worked them into their own evolving style, while still holding tradition and culture very close to heart.
Chū gyo kai (Mushi sakana kai?), Artist: Onchi Koshiro, 1943 (Showa 18); March, From the collection of: Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
This last piece, was made post Edo period and it is very noticeable in the print. As you can see this is a far more abstracted image and non representational. Instead of the usual print of a landscape or a group of people, he focuses on what appears to be a bee, with its honeycomb and a flower or water. It is interesting to see how far this artist departs from the usual style, and it appears from this, many prints after this point took a more abstracted style. Which has lead to a new modern Japanese print which is very similar to many abstract western movements.
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This user gallery has been created by an independent third party and may not represent the views of the institutions whose collections include the featured works or of Google Arts & Culture.
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