Kuniyoshi

Japanese master of imagined worlds

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.


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Biographical Note
Iwakiri Yuriko is an independent scholar of Japanese woodblock prints, with a special interest in the iconography of warrior prints. She has published extensively as author and editor in this area and in other aspects of Edo- and Meiji-period prints, including the publications Utagawa Kuniyoshi Kisokaidō rokujūkyū tsugi (1994), Kuniyoshi yōkai hyakkei (1999), Ukiyo-e dai musha-e ten (2003), Japanese warrior prints (1646–1905) (2007), Yoshitoshi: Tsuki hyakushi (2010) and Botsugo 150 nen Utagawa Kuniyoshi ten/Kuniyoshi: spectacular ukiyo-e imagination (2011). Amy Reigle Newland is an independent scholar of Japanese woodblock prints, working as an author and editor in that field, including the publications Beauty & violence, Japanese prints by Yoshitoshi (1839–1892) (1991), The new wave: twentieth century Japanese prints from the R.O. Muller collection (1992), Heroes & ghosts: Japanese prints by Kuniyoshi (1998), The Hotei encyclopedia of Japanese woodblock prints (2005), The beauty of silence: Japanese nō & nature prints by Tsukioka Kōgyo 1869–1927 (2010) and Yoshitoshi: masterpieces from the Ed Fries collection (2011).
Readership
Scholars and collectors of Japanese prints, in particular Kuniyoshi.
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