Artistic Cultures of Asia and the Americas

 




The Art of Asia




 

 

see collection:


Japanese Prints

***

see collection:


Hiroshige's  Tokaido

***
 

see collection:


Hokusai's

Views of Mt. Fuji

and

Panoramic View of Sumidagawa River

***
 

see collection:

Tsukioka Yoshitoshi


Tsuki hyakushi - 100 Aspects of the Moon


***
 

see also:

Sesshu's Long Scroll

***
 

 
 


The Golden Age of Japanese Art:

Kamakura Period


After the prosperity and elegance of the Heran era (AD794-1184). a climate of growing tension and widespread disorder heralded inevitable change. Between 1185 and 1192, the increasing militarization of the provincial aristocracy and the open conflict among the great families and religious leaders caused the political power to shift from the Kansai region in the Kyoto area to Kamakura in the Kanto region. Although Kyoto remained the seat of imperial power and the country's cultural and artistic centre, the control of the nation was effectively handed over to the new military governor - the bakufu - and to the shogun (commanders-in-chief), who were to retain power until the 19th century. The Buddhist clergy, showing both political and religious initiative, continued to patronize and inspire the arts. Buddhist architecture and sculpture of the early Kamakura period were devoted to reconstruction and renovation following the destruction caused by natural disasters and civil wars. Though some artists reverted to the plastic art forms of the Nara period (ad710-794), great sculptors such as Kaikei (1185-1220) and Unkei (1148-1223) developed the technique of yosegizukuri - using separate blocks of wood to create large sculptures - as is shown in. for example, the Todaiji monastery and the Kofukuji at Nara. They also introduced technical innovations such as gyokugan, the insertion of eyes made of crystal. The sculptures of chinzo (religious personalities) and warriors were lauded for being very true to life. While the iconography of esoteric Buddhism and its various cults continued with the standard forms, such as the symbolically complex mandalas, the rise of new religious cults and the Zen sect stimulated a fresh approach to representation. In secular art, the amato-e tradition continued, with illustrations of tales (rnono-gatari), historical accounts (rekishi monogatari), and stories of war, uprisings, and diaries (nikki). The History of the Heiji Era ("Heiji monogatari emaki"), recounting the 12th-century battles fought at Kyoto for the succession to the throne, constitutes one of the greatest examples of Kamakura pictorial narrative. The accuracy and faithfulness of the illustrations make it also a particularly important record of contemporary costume.
 


Knijiki-do, Sculpture of Ten,
one of the Celestial Kings defending Buddhism.
This work has now been restored in Tokyo.
 


Ashikaga Yoshimitsu, Kinkakuji, or
Golden Pavilion, Rokuonji, Kyoto, late 14th century.
 


Ryoanji dry garden (kare sansui), Kyoto, 16th century.
This famous dry garden is attributed to Soami.


 
 






 


PRINTS OF THE FLOATING WORLD


The peace and prosperity of the Edo (or Tokugawa) period, the development of a wealthy merchant class, and the shifting of political power from Kyoto to Edo, all helped create a society based on pleasure, with activities revolving around social centres and the kabuki theatre. The world of the courtesan inspired the painting of feminine beauty (bijin ga). with emphasis on portraits of individual women and on the splendour of the kimono. The innovative approach of the theatrical prints of Katsukawa Shunsho (1726-92) paved the way for the experimental work of Katsukawa Shun'ei (1762-1819), the Utagawa school - directed by Toyokuni (1769-1825) - and the original works of Toshusai Sharaku (active 1794-95). Derived from genre painting (fuzokuga), the prints of the "floating world" (ukiyo-e) took their name from the nature of the subject matter, which focused on leisure activities, sensual delights, the rules of etiquette, and refined taste. Often equated with themes such as glory, fame, and beauty, the floating world did not represent an escape from everyday life but a way of life in itself. The meaning and the characters with which the name ukiyo-e were written were changed in the 17th century from the Buddhist understanding of ukiyo as the "floating world" to that of the more specifically erotic "world of pleasures". The districts catering for such pleasures — Yoshiwara in Edo, Shimabara in Kyoto, and Shinmachi in Osaka — were authorized by the shogunate government, and became popular centres of social activity. The introduction of wood-engraving in about the eighth century, was principally concerned with the printing of Buddhist texts, but later, from the 15th century onwards, production also comprised illustrations for stories and adventures (otogi zoshi). These were the precursors of the illustrated stories and novels of the l7th century, as well as the line engravings of secular subjects, an activity that has evolved to this day. After the initial black-and-white prints (sumizuri) of Moronobu C1618-94), the first colour, red, was introduced, followed in 1710 by yellow and green. At times the colour, particularly black, was mixed with lacquer (urushi) or glue to obtain a thicker, shinier medium. The application of several different colours began in about 1764, with different blocks for each colour. Suzuki Harunobu (1725-7O) perfected this technique in his "brocaded prints" (nishiki-e) of beautifully elegant women. Torii Kiyonaga (1752-85) achieved a delicate balance between the worlds of reality and imagination by gradually elongating the female figure. With his attentive eye, Kitagawa Utamaro (1735-1806) captured the details of life in the Yoshiwara in his portrayals of archetypal feminine beauty. Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849) embarked on his great landscape series, Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji and One Hundred Views of Mount Fuji (1830-32 and c.1834—40), and Ando Hiroshige (1797-1858) depicted the landscapes along the famous highway linking Kyoto and Edo in his Fifty three Stages of the Tokaido Road (1833-34).
 











see also collection:



Japanese

Prints


Katsukawa Shunsho,
Matataro IV,
The Actors Ishikawa Mon no Suke II and Bando.
The portraits are positioned between two fan shapes.


Khagawa Utamaro,
Women Making Clothes (one of three panels).
The influence of Utamaro reached the
Western art world.

 

 

 


Hishikawa Moronobu, Three Couples.
This artist was the first great master of ukiyo-e.
 

 

Keisai Eisen

 

 


Hokusai
 

 

 

see also collection:


Hiroshige's


Tokaido


Ando Hiroshige,
Sudden Rain Shower at Shono,
one of 53 prints from Fifty three Stages of the Tokaido Road, 1833-34.
 

 

 

see also collection:


Hokusai's


Views


of Mt. Fuji



and

Panoramic View

of

 Sumidagawa River


Katsushika Hokusai, View on a fine breezy day,
from Thirty Six Views of Mount Fuji.

 

 

 
Ukiyo-e

(Encyclopaedia Britannica)

(Japanese: “pictures of the floating world”), one of the most important genres of art of the Tokugawa period (1603–1867) in Japan. The style is a mixture of the realistic narrative of the emaki (“picture scrolls”) produced in the Kamakura period and the mature decorative style of the Momoyama and Tokugawa periods. The ukiyo-e style also has about it something of both native and foreign realism.

Screen paintings were the first works to be done in the style. These depicted aspects of the entertainment quarters (euphemistically called the “floating world”) of Edo (modern Tokyo) and other urban centres. Common subjects included famous courtesans and prostitutes, kabuki actors and well-known scenes from kabuki plays, and erotica. More important than screen painting, however, were wood-block prints, ukiyo-e artists being the first to exploit that medium. A new interest in the urban everyday world and its market motivated the swift development of ukiyo-e prints designed for mass consumption.

Hishikawa Moronobu is generally accredited as the first master of ukiyo-e. The transition from single- to two-colour prints was made by Okumura Masanobu. In 1765 polychromeprints using numerous blocks were introduced by Suzuki Harunobu. The essence of the ukiyo-e style was embodied in the works of Utamaro, Hokusai, and Hiroshige.
 

 

 

 
Hiroshige

(Encyclopaedia Britannica)

born 1797, Edo [now Tokyo], Japan
died Oct. 12, 1858, Edo


in full Ando Hiroshige, professional names Utagawa Hiroshige and Ichiyūsai Hiroshige, original name Andō Tokutarō Japanese artist, one of the last great ukiyo-e (“pictures of the floating world”) masters of the colour wood-block print. His genius for landscape compositions was first recognized in the West by the Impressionists and Postimpressionists. His print series “Fifty-three Stations on the Tokaido” (1833–34) is perhaps his finest achievement.

Hiroshige was the son of Andō Genemon, warden of the Edofire brigade. Various episodes indicate that the young Hiroshige was fond of sketching and probably had the tutelage of a fireman who had studied under a master of the traditional Kanō school of painting. In the spring of 1809, when Hiroshige was 12 years of age, his mother died. Shortly after, his father resigned his post, passing it on to his son. Early the following year, his father died as well. Hiroshige's actual daily duties as a fire warden were minimal, and his wages were small.

Undoubtedly, these factors, plus his own natural bent for art, eventually led him to enter, about 1811, the school of the ukiyo-e master Utagawa Toyohiro. Hiroshige is said to have first applied to the school of the more popular artist Utagawa Toyokuni, a confrere of Toyohiro. Had Hiroshige been accepted as a pupil by Toyokuni, he might well have ended his days as a second-rate imitator of that artist's gaudy prints of girls and actors. It was doubtless the more modest and refined taste of Toyohiro that helped form Hiroshige's own style—and led his genius eventually to find full expression in the new genre of the landscape print.

Although receiving a nom d'artiste and a school license at the early age of 15, Hiroshige was no child prodigy, and it was not until six years later, in 1818, that his first published work appeared. In the field of book illustration, it bore the signature Ichiyūsai Hiroshige. No earlier signed works are extant, but it is likely that, during this student period, Hiroshige did odd jobs (e.g., inexpensive fan paintings) for the Toyohiro studio and also studied, on his own, the Chinese-influenced Kanō style and the impressionistic Shijō style—both of which were to strongly influence his later work.

As soon as he was able, Hiroshige transferred to his own son the post of fire warden and devoted himself to his art. As is customary with artists of the plebeian ukiyo-e school, early biographical material regarding Hiroshige is scarce: he and his confreres were considered to be only artisans by the Japanese society of the time, and, although their works were widely enjoyed and sometimes even treasured, there was little interest in the personal details of their careers. Thus, Hiroshige's adult years must be traced largely through his works.

Hiroshige's artistic life may be characterized in several stages. The first was his student period, from about 1811 to 1830, when he largely followed the work of his elders in the field of figure prints—girls, actors, and samurai, or warriors. The second was his first landscape period, from 1830 to about 1844, when he created his own romantic ideal of landscape design and bird-and-flower prints and brought them to full fruition with his famed “Fifty-three Stations of the Tōkaidō” and other series of prints depicting landscape vistas in Japan. His last stage was his later period of landscape and figure-with-landscape designs, from 1844 to 1858, during which overpopularity and overproduction tended to diminish the quality of his work.

Hiroshige's great talent developed in the 1830s. In 1832 he made a trip between Edo and Kyōto along the famed highwaycalled the Tōkaidō; he stayed at the 53 overnight stations along the road and made numerous sketches of everything he saw. He published a series of 55 landscape prints entitled the “Fifty-three Stations on the Tōkaidō”—one for each station, as well as the beginning of the highway and the arrival in Kyōto. The success of this series was immediate and made Hiroshige one of the most popular ukiyo-e artistsof all time. He made numerous other journeys within Japan and issued such series of prints as “Famous Places in Kyōto” (1834), “Eight Views of Lake Biwa” (1835), “Sixty-nine Stations on the Kiso Highway” (c. 1837), and “One Hundred Views of Edo” (1856–58). He repeatedly executed new designs of the 53 Tōkaidō views in which he employed his unused sketches of previous years.

It has been estimated that Hiroshige created more than 5,000 prints and that as many as 10,000 copies were made from some of his wood blocks. Hokusai, Hiroshige's early contemporary, was the innovator of the pure landscape print. Hiroshige, who followed him, was a less-striking artistic personality but frequently achieved equivalent masterpieces in his own calm manner. Possessing the abilityto reduce the pictured scene to a few simple, highly decorative elements, Hiroshige captured the very essence of what he saw and turned it into a highly effective composition. There was in his work a human touch that no artist of the school had heretofore achieved; his pictures revealed a beauty that seemed somehow tangible and intimate. Snow, rain, mist, and moonlight scenes compose some of his most poetic masterpieces.

Hiroshige's life was his work, with neither peaks nor valleys. He leaves the impression of a largely self-taught artist who limited himself to the devices and capacity of his own nature. Hiroshige was fond of travel, loved wine and good food, and in his other tastes was a true citizen of Edo. He died in the midst of a cholera epidemic.

Richard Lane
 

 
 
 
Hokusai

(Encyclopaedia Britannica)

born October 1760, Edo [now Tokyo], Japan
died May 10, 1849, Edo


in full Katsushika Hokusai , professional names Shunrō, Sōri, Kakō, Taito, Gakyōjin, Iitsu , and Manji Japanese master artist and printmaker of the ukiyo-e (“pictures of the floating world”) school. His early works represent the full spectrum of ukiyo-e art, including single-sheet prints of landscapes and actors, hand paintings, and surimono (“printed things”), such as greetings and announcements. Later he concentrated on the classical themes of the samurai and Chinese subjects. His famous print series “Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji,” published between 1826 and 1833, marked the summit in the history of the Japanese landscape print.

Early years.

Hokusai was born in the Honjo quarter just east of Edo (Tokyo) and became interested in drawing at the age of five. He was adopted in childhood by a prestigious artisan family named Nakajima but was never accepted as an heir—possibly supporting the theory that, though the true son of Nakajima, he had been born of a concubine.

Hokusai is said to have served in his youth as clerk in a lending bookshop, and from 15 to 18 years of age he was apprenticed to a wood-block engraver. This early training in the book and printing trades obviously contributed to Hokusai's artistic development as a printmaker.

The earliest contemporary record of Hokusai dates from the year 1778, when, at the age of 18, he became a pupil of the leading ukiyo-e master, Katsukawa Shunshō. The young Hokusai's first published works appeared the following year—actor prints of the kabuki theatre, the genre that Shunshō and the Katsukawa school practically dominated.

To judge from the ages of his several children, Hokusai must have married in his mid-20s. Possibly under the influence of family life, from this period his designs tended to turn from prints of actors and women to historical and landscape subjects, especially uki-e (semi-historical landscapes using Western-influenced perspective techniques), as well as prints of children. The artist's book illustrations and texts turned as well from the earlier themes to historical and didactic subjects. At the same time, Hokusai's work in the surimono genre during the subsequent decade marks one of the early peaks in his career. Surimono were prints issued privately for special occasions—New Year's and other greetings, musical programs and announcements, private verse selections—in limited editions and featuring immaculate printing of the highest quality.

Hokusai's early 30s were to prove years of personal change. His master Shunshō died early in 1793, and somewhat later Hokusai's young wife passed away, leaving a son and two daughters. In the year 1797 he remarried and adopted the name Hokusai. This change of name marks the beginning of the golden age of his work, which was to continue for a half century.


Mature years.

In format, Hokusai's oeuvre from this period covers the gamut of ukiyo-e art: single-sheet prints, surimono, picture books and picture novelettes, illustrations to verse anthologies and historical novels, erotic books and album prints, and hand paintings and sketches. In his subject matter, Hokusai only occasionally (in a few notable prints, in paintings, and erotica) chose to compete with Utamaro, the acknowledged master of voluptuous figure prints. Aside fromthis limitation, however, Hokusai's work encompassed a widerange, with particular emphasis on landscape views and historical scenes in which figures were often of secondary interest. Around the turn of the century he experimented for a time with Western-style perspective and colouring.

From the early 19th century Hokusai commenced illustrating yomihon (the extended historical novels that were just coming into fashion). Under their influence, his style began to suffer important and clearly visible changes between 1806 and 1807. His figure work becomes more powerful but increasingly less delicate; there is greater attention to classical or traditional themes (especially of samurai, or warriors, and Chinese subjects) and a turning away from the contemporary Ukiyo-e world.

In about the year 1812, Hokusai's eldest son died. This tragedy was not only an emotional but also an economic event, for, as adopted heir to the affluent Nakajima family, the son had been instrumental in obtaining a generous stipend for Hokusai, so that he did not need to worry about the uncertainties of income from his paintings, designs, and illustrations, which at this period were paid for more with “gifts” than with set fees.

Whether for economic reasons or not, from this time on Hokusai's attention turned gradually from novel illustration to the picture book and, particularly, to the type of wood-block-printed copybook designed for amateur artists (including the famous Hokusai manga). Very likely his intention was to find new pupils and hence new patronage, and in this he succeeded to some degree.

Though famed for his detailed prints and illustrations, Hokusai was also fond of displaying his artistic prowess in public—making, for example, huge paintings (some fully 200 square metres [about 2,000 square feet] in area) of mythological figures before festival crowds, in both Edo and Nagoya. He was once even summoned to show his artistic skills before the shogun (the military leader who, although theoretically subordinate to the emperor, was in fact the ruler of Japan).

In the summer of 1828, Hokusai's second wife died. The master was then 68, afflicted intermittently with paralysis and left alone, evidently with only a profligate grandson, who had proved to be an incorrigible delinquent. It is probably no coincidence, therefore, that before long Hokusai's favourite daughter (and pupil), O-ei, broke her unhappy marriage with a minor artist named Tōmei and returned to her father's side, where she was to stay for his remaining years.

An energetic artist, Hokusai rose early and continued painting until well after dark. This was the customary regimen of his long, productive life. Of Hokusai's thousands of books and prints, his “Thirty-six Views of Mt. Fuji” is particularly notable (see ). Published from about 1826 to 1833, this famous series (including supplements, a total of 46 colour prints) marked a summit in the history of the Japanese landscape print; in grandeur of concept and skill of execution there was little approaching it before and nothing to surpass it later—even in the work of Hokusai's famed late contemporary Hiroshige (q.v.).

Hokusai's frequent changes in domicile (more than 90 dwellings) and of his own name are indicative of the artist's restless nature. Besides his principal noms d'artiste (roughlyone per decade), the artist had also some two dozen other occasional pseudonyms, though these were normally used as adjuncts to his principal name of a given period.

Despite his appeals to heaven for “yet another decade—nay, even another five years,” on the 18th day of the fourth month of the Japanese calendar “the old man mad with painting,” as he called himself, breathed his last. He was 89 but still insatiably seeking for an ultimate truth in art—as he had written 15 years earlier:

From the age of five I have had a mania for sketching the forms of things. From about the age of 50 I produced a number of designs, yet of all I drew prior to the age of 70 there is truly nothing of any great note. At the age of 73 I finally apprehended something of the true quality of birds, animals, insects, fishes, and of thevital nature of grasses and trees. Therefore, at 80 I shall have made some progress, at 90 I shall have penetrated even further the deeper meaning of things, at 100 I shall have become truly marvelous, and at 110, each dot, each line shall surely possess a life of its own. I only beg that gentlemen of sufficiently long life take care to note the truth of my words.

Assessment.

Hokusai embodied in his long lifetime the essence of the Ukiyo-e school of art during its final century of development. His stubborn genius also represents, in its 70 years of continuous artistic creation, the prototype of the single-minded artist, striving only to complete a given task. Moreover, Hokusai constitutes a figure who has, since the later 19th century, impressed Western artists, critics, and art lovers alike, more, possibly, than any other single Asian artist.

Richard Lane
 

_________________
______
 


see collection:

Tsukioka Yoshitoshi


Tsuki hyakushi - 100 Aspects of the Moon

_______
____________
 


see also:

Sesshu's Long Scroll

SESSHU'S  LONG SCROLL is the masterwork of the 15th-century artist whom Japan honors as her greatest. Famed not only as a painter but also as a Zen priest and a great traveler, Sesshu found inspiration for his wonderful landscapes both in China and Japan. This magnificent scroll, which pictures the procession of the seasons, is essentially religious painting with a strong atmosphere of Zen Buddhism.
Nature, rather than man, is dominant, although the human touch is charmingly evident from time to time.
 
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Sesshu Toyo, Landscape, ink on paper. National Museum, Tokyo.
This expressive work has been achieved
with the minimum of materials.

 

Muromachi Period

Initially, the accession of the shogunate of the Ashikaga family (1334-1573) caused a rift within the imperial family and the division into the so-called southern and northern dynasties (Nanbokucho). Established at Muromachi, the shogunate built temples, towns, and palaces and established official relations with Yuan and Ming China. The extravagant, ostentatious nature of the arts of this period was in keeping with the wish to display outward signs of prosperity in the home. The shogunate felt a need to exhibit its wealth as a sign of power in its confrontations with the increasingly rich and numerous feudal lords, or daimyo. In the field of architecture, Ashikaga Yoshimitsu attempted to combine the residential (shinden-zukuri) and more conventional warrior (buke-zukuri) styles in the famous Golden Pavilion, or Kinkajuki, of 1397. Ashikaga Yoshimasa (1434-90) repeated the experiment just as elegantly in the Silver Pavilion, or Ginkdkuji, Both were originally intended as residences but were subsequently transformed into Buddhist temples. The spread of Zen Buddhism and the associated use of tea as a stimulant during long hours of meditation popularized this drink to such an extent that its consumption came to be accepted as an art form known as the cha no yu (tea ceremony). The drinking of tea was carried out in idyllic surroundings, accompanied by objects of worship, flower arrangements (ikebana), and delicate paintings in ink. The ceremony took place in simple, austere buildings, such as a pavilion or teahouse situated in a beautifully tended garden. The contemplation of the garden had inspired a new type of architecture, known as shoin-zukuri (studio), with wide verandahs looking out over enchanting lakes. The Zen garden was a small space in which all the natural elements were gathered together. Water was replaced by sand and gravel to create a dry landscape (kare sansui), of which one of the most famous examples is the Ryoanji in Kyoto. The aesthetic aspect of nature, in all its harmony and proportion, was the central subject of the priest-painter Sesshu Toyo (1420-1506). With unrivalled mastery of the brush, he applied a Japanese interpretation to the technique of handling space, as proposed by Chinese painting of the time. Three generations of eclectic artists, Noami (1397— 1471), Geiami (1431- 85), and Soami (d. 1525) - painters, poets, garden architects, masters of the tea ceremony, and shogunate councillors -continued the tradition of sketching in ink, focusing on naturalistic subjects. Sesson Shukei (1504-89) applied the same treatment to imaginary landscapes, yet in a far more lyrical style.
The Azuchi-Momoyama period (1574-1614), with its continual struggles over control of the country and led by Oda Nobunaga (1534-82) and Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1536-98). saw the continuation of the Kamakura tradition of building fortified residences - a trend reinforced by the spread of firearms and the arrival of the first Europeans in about 1543. Increasingly, art became a means of demonstrating political power, and the castle, with its complex and effective fortifications, frescos, and paintings on screens and sliding doors, became testimony to this show of strength. The appointment of Tokugawa Ieyasu to the shogunate in 1603 put an end to the wars that had devastated the country for decades and ushered in the longest period of peace that Japan had ever experienced, known as the Edo period (1603-1867). The refined simplicity of the Imperial Pavilion of Katsura (begun in 1620.) contrasted with the taste for extravagant decoration, evident in the mausoleum of Ieyasu at Nikko (1634-36). In painting, various styles and influences went hand in hand; this was demonstrated by the styles of the Rinpa school of Ogata Korin (1658-1716) and Sakai Hoitsu (1761-1828), the naturalism of Maruyama Okyo (1733-95), the Chinese-inspired nanga or "Southern" painting of Ike Taiga (1723—76) and Yosa Buson (1716-83), and the woodblock prints of supple women and famous actors from Edo (modern Tokvo).
 

 


Tawaraya Sotatsu,
The God of Wind
,
(detail of screen), colour on a gold background.
Kennlnji, Kyoto.
In this dynamic work, the artist juxtaposes small and large areas of colour.
 

***

see collection:


Japanese Prints

***

see collection:


Hiroshige's Tokaido

***

see collection:


Hokusai's


Views of Mt. Fuji

and

Panoramic View of Sumidagawa River

***

see collection:

Tsukioka Yoshitoshi


Tsuki hyakushi - 100 Aspects of the Moon

***

see also:

Sesshu's Long Scroll


***

 

 

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