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Hilary Chapman and Libby Horner

Yoshijiro Urushibara: A Japanese printmaker in London is a catalogue raisonné of the work of Yoshijiro Urushibara (1889–1953), a Japanese artist and craftsman who lived and worked in London from 1910 to 1940. During his thirty years in Europe, Urushibara produced a considerable number of prints and played a major role in encouraging the production and appreciation of the colour woodcut in the Japanese manner, especially in Britain. Throughout his career Urushibara contributed to cross-cultural interactivity, collaborating with several European artists. His most famous and successful collaboration was with the British artist Frank Brangwyn (1867-1956).
The authors had unique access to the artist’s family archive in Tokyo and recorded and evaluated the extent of Urushibara’s print production. With fully researched catalogue entries, full-colour illustrations, and illuminating biographical and contextual essays, this publication – the first of its kind in the English language - provides a comprehensive account of Urushibara’s life and oeuvre.

Series:

Marije Jansen

Utagawa Hiroshige (1797-1858) designed a series of 70 landscapes depicting the provinces of Japan between 1854 and 1856. It was the first of a number of sets from the highly productive years of his later life. The designs comprising Famous places in the 60-odd provinces ( Rokuju yoshu meisho zue) are taken from all corners of Japan. Designs published before this series had already depicted the famous routes between Edo and Kyoto, the Tokaido and the Kisokaido, and various well known locations such as the famous waterfalls, Lake Omi and the Jewel Rivers, but a series on such a grand scale devoted to the provincies was a novelty. It evidently met with critical acclaim as the publishers Koshimuraya Heisuke issued several editions.
In this study, the author Marije Jansen briefly discusses Hiroshige's life and the formal aspects of this series. Jansen takes as her point of departure the set in possession of the German collector Gerhard Pulverer, which is generally acknowledged to be a superb example of a first edition, and compares this series to a number of other sets in public and private collections. The detectable printing variations in each design are carefully analysed, making this an indispensable tool for collectors.

David R. Weinberg

Kuniyoshi The Faithful Samurai is a pioneering publication which deals with the most famous series – the Seichū gishi den (1847-48) and its sequel the Seichū gishin den (1848) – of the forty-seven masterless samurai ( rōnin) by artist Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797-1861). The true 18th-century tale of revenge by forty-seven rōnin for the death of their lord was enormously popular in Japan: it was dramatised for the Kabuki theatre and its heroes were often depicted in ukiyo-e prints. Kuniyoshi was a master in the genre of warrior prints, and his series expressively portrays these warrior ‘folk heroes’. Dr. Weinberg’s book also includes translations of the texts which appear on the prints and which recount each hero’s exploits. In addition, there are photographs of the relics of the masterless samurai and the ruins of their castle in Akō.

Robert Schaap

Utagawa Kunisada (1786–1865) was one of the most successful Japanese woodblock print designers of his age. With an estimated output of some twenty-five thousand prints during a career spanning almost sixty years Kunisada was a towering figure in the sphere of ukiyo-e. His versatility and inventiveness extended across genres, from the stars of the kabuki stage to the women from the pleasure districts, the world of entertainment and the everyday, as well as landscapes, warriors and literary themes.

Kunisada was greatly respected during his lifetime as a print designer of the Utagawa school and as the head of a successful studio with students, such as Toyohara Kunichika (1835–1900), who would carry the tradition of woodblock prints into the Meiji period (1868–1912). Yet scholars, collectors and connoisseurs in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries dismissed him and many of his contemporaries as ‘decadent’. And in recent decades his achievements have often been overshadowed by his contemporary Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797−1861). Kunisada: imaging drama and beauty offers a fresh perspective on this ukiyo-e master, demonstrating the high calibre of his art with prints, paintings and books sourced from international public and private collections. Although the over one hundred and fifty works in the publication represent only a small part of Kunisada’s vast oeuvre, they serve to convey his skill in capturing and imagining Japanese popular culture of the first half of the nineteenth century.

Of Brigands and Bravery

Kuniyoshi's Heroes of the Suikoden

Inge Klompmakers

Of brigands and bravery: Kuniyoshi’s heroes of the Suikoden is the first monograph in English on the stunning series of 74 prints illustrating figures from the Suikoden by Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797-1861), one of the outstanding Japanese woodblock-print masters of the 19th century.

The Suikoden (commonly known in English as The water margin) is the Japanese adaptation of the 14th-century Chinese vernacular novel, the Shui hu zhuan, which recounts the exploits of a group of rebels on Mount Liang (J. Ryösanpaku) under the lead of the brave and righteous Song Jiang. The Suikoden was enormously popular in Japan during the 19th century. It was Kuniyoshi’s initial designs for the single-sheet print series The one hundred and eight heroes of the popular Suikoden (Tsüzoku Suikoden göketsu hyakuhachinin no hitori) - in which the full-length portraits of the heroes are charged with a new sense of dynamism - that spurred a Suikoden craze in Edo (present-day Tokyo).

Of brigands and bravery reproduces the 74 known designs of the series in full colour; each is accompanied by an explanatory text. The publication also offers supplementary information on topics relating specifically to the series such as tattooing: a number of the Suikoden figures are adorned with tattoos and it is thought that Kuniyoshi himself had a passion for this art. In addition, Kuniyoshi’s illustration of a variety of armour and dress types, his at times graphic portrayal of the heroes in battle and his integration of western stylistic devices are testimony to the creative genius behind the Suikoden series.

Joshua S. Mostow and Asato Ikeda

Gender relations were complex in Edo-period Japan (1603–1868). Wakashu, male youths, were desired by men and women, constituting a “third gender” with their androgynous appearance and variable sexuality. For the first time outside Japan, A Third Gender examines the fascination with wakashu in Edo-period culture and their visual representation in art, demonstrating how they destabilize the conventionally held model of gender binarism.

The volume will reproduce, in colour, over a hundred works, mostly woodblock prints and illustrated books from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries produced by a number of designers ranging from such well-known artists as Okumura Masanobu, Suzuki Harunobu, Kitagawa Utamaro and Utagawa Kunisada, to lesser known artists such as Shigemasa, Eishi and Eiri. A Third Gender is based on the collection of the Royal Ontario Museum, which houses the largest collection of Japanese art in Canada, including more than 2,500 woodblock prints.

Water and Shadow

Kawase Hasui and Japanese Landscape Prints

Kendall H. Brown

Known as Japan’s premier “poet of place,” Kawase Hasui is one of the most popular landscape artists of the twentieth century. This richly illustrated catalogue spans Kawase Hasui’s most imaginative period—the years from 1918 to the Great Earthquake of 1923. An important contributor to the early shin-hanga (new print) movement, Hasui crafted distinctive landscapes that also recall artistic traditions ranging from ukiyo-e and French Japonisme to Post-Impressionist painting.

Water and Shadow is based on the unparalleled collection donated to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts by René and Carolyn Balcer. These selections exemplify the creativity of Hasui’s early work and reveal the dynamic interplay between his prints, graphic design, and rare but spectacular paintings. Five essays by leading scholars in North America and Japan explore Hasui’s methods, art historical relationships, and themes as well as some socioeconomic aspects of the print business.

Erotic Japonisme

The Influence of Japanese Sexual Imagery on Western Art

Ricard Bru

At its height in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Japonisme had a tremendous impact on Western art. In this publication, author Ricard Bru approaches the cultural phenomenon of Japonisme from an innovative standpoint. He presents an in-depth discussion of the influence of Japanese printed erotic imagery by ukiyo-e masters such as Kitagawa Utamaro, Katsushika Hokusai, and Utagawa Hiroshige on European artists, including Edgar Degas, Auguste Rodin, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Gustav Klimt and Pablo Picasso, as well as writers, critics, and collectors, such as Edmond de Goncourt, Joris-Karl Huysmans, and Émile Zola. With over 160 color illustrations sourced from public and private collections, Erotic Japonisme demonstrates the rich artistic dialogue that existed between Europe and Japan.

Kuniyoshi

Japanese master of imagined worlds

Yuriko Iwakiri and Amy Newland

Enjoying a career spanning almost fifty years, from the 1810s to his death in 1861, Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797–1861) was instrumental in establishing warrior prints as one of the major genres in the history of Japanese woodblock prints (ukiyo-e). His most spectacular triptychs of warriors resonate even in contemporary culture, their influence reflected in modern graphic media such as manga. This publication demonstrates that Kuniyoshi’s artistic genius also extended to the creation of striking prints in other genres: images of beautiful women and kabuki actors, ghosts, demons and monsters, anthropomorphic renditions of animals illustrating everyday life, as well as compositions replete with humour and often involving witty wordplay. Examples of Kuniyoshi’s work also reveal the artist’s dialogue with aspects of European pictorial traditions in his experimentation with shading and perspective. The selection of prints in Kuniyoshi: Japanese master of imagined worlds includes representative pieces of the highest quality, a number of which are illustrated for the first time outside Japan. Descriptive texts accompany the 136 prints in the publication and these are introduced by an in-depth discussion of Kuniyoshi’s life and his art.


Portraits of Chōgen

The Transformation of Buddhist Art in Early Medieval Japan

Series:

John M. Rosenfield

This volume, the first in Brill’s Japanese Visual Culture series, vividly describes the efforts of the Japanese monk Shunjōbō Chōgen (1121–1206) to restore major buildings and works of art lost in a brutal civil conflict in 1180. Chōgen is best known for his role in the recasting of the Great Buddha (Daibutsu) and the reconstructing of the South Great Gate (Nandaimon) of Tōdaiji in Nara and its huge, dramatic wooden guardian figures. This study concentrates on these and other replacement statues and buildings associated with Chōgen and situates the visual arts of Japan into the spiritual and socio-political context of their times. Through meticulous study of dedicatory material, Rosenfield is able to place the splendid Buddhist statues made for Chōgen in vivid new light. The volume also explores how Japan’s rulers employed the visual arts as instruments of government policy – a tactic that recurs throughout the nation’s history. This publication includes an annotated translation of Chōgen’s memoir, completed near the end of his life, in which he recounts his many achievements. In chapters on East Asian portraiture, Rosenfield claims that surviving statues of Chōgen, carved with mordant realism, rank among the world’s most eloquent portraits, and herald the great changes that were to permeate Japanese religious and secular arts in the centuries to come. While Chōgen has been the subject of major art exhibitions and extensive research in Japan; this is the first book-length study to appear in the West.