Insights

Abstraction in Postwar Japanese Printmaking

by: Lia Robinson

In 1951, printmakers Kiyoshi Saitō 斉藤清 (1907–1997) and Tetsurō Komai 駒井哲郎(1920-1976) were awarded top prizes at the Sao Paolo Biennale, gaining instant recognition for Japanese prints in the increasingly global art world. Their success, unmatched by painters and sculptors at the same biennale, represented a flourishing of Japanese printmaking from the 1950s to the 1970s. The resurgence of creative printmaking in postwar Japan was characterized by innovative, abstract styles and themes that engaged with the rapid transformations of the era. Promoted by artists around the world as the common language of modern art, abstraction was thought to espouse international humanism, individualism, and liberalism following the traumatic experiences under the totalitarian regimes of World War II. This trend toward self-expression and barrier-breaking in the arts ushered in an unprecedented age of experimentation reinforced by transnational networks of avant-garde artists in Japan, Europe and America.

Koshiro Onchis Influence on the Sosaku-Hanga, Creative Print Movement

by: Caroline Moore

“Art is not something that can be grasped by the mind, it is understood by the heart. If one goes back to its origin, painting expresses the heart in color and form, and it must not be limited to the world of reflected forms captured by sight.” - Kōshirō Onchi on the process and philosophy of the sōsaku-hanga (“creative print”) movement.

The Influence of Japonisme in the West: from its Inception to Today

by: Caroline Moore

Japanese culture including fine art, food, fashion, and customs has been adopted and popularized by the Western world now for over a century. Today, Japanese culture influences our daily lives as a result of globalization and its rapid integration in the West over time. A rise in the collection of Japanese art, specifically ukiyo-e (“pictures of the floating world”) and sōsaku-hanga (“creative”) prints, mirrors the growing interest in traditional Japanese art as the inspiration that laid the groundwork for Japonisme, which shaped the West’s contemporary society.