Sunday Evening Art Gallery (midweek) — Utagawa Kunisada

Utagawa Kunisada, (1786-1865) has been called the most prolific of all the painters and printmakers of the ukiyo-e (pictures of the floating world) movement in 19th-century Japan.Born in Tokyo (then called Edo), Kunisada was the son of a moderately successful poet, who died very early in his life.The young artist began sketching very early and developed not only a passion but a clear skill in the craft which caught the eye of the master of the Utagawa school of ukiyo-e, Utagawa Toyokuni.Kunisada started his career as a pupil of Toyokuni I whose name he adopted in 1844, becoming Toyokuni III. While he changed his names several times, he is commonly referred to as Kunisada or Toyokuni III.Almost from the first day of his activity, and even at the time of his death in 1865, Kunisada was a trendsetter in the art of the Japanese woodblock print.

Always at the vanguard of his time, and in tune with the tastes of the public, he continuously developed his style, which was sometimes radically changed, and did not adhere to stylistic constraints set by any of his contemporaries. 

Kunisada’s prints mostly consisted of kabuki actors, the popular trend of the period, but as he continued to perfect his craft there was a growth in the number, and the experimental nature, of shunga works which Kunisada produced.

In addition to actor prints (yakusha-e) and book illustrations (kuchi-e), he produced erotic prints (shunga), pictures of beautiful women (bijin-ga), landscapes and privately commissioned prints (surimono).

In his later years, Kunisada had truly perfected his craft. The depth, blends of color, and complex perspectives of his artwork truly set him apart.More of Utagawa Kunisada‘s prints can be found across the Internet, including http://www.kunisada.de/.

 

 

Sunday Evening Art Gallery (midweek) — Maki-e

Maki-e (蒔絵, literally: sprinkled picture) is Japanese lacquer sprinkled with gold or silver powder as a decoration using a makizutsu or a kebo brush.

George Walter Vincent Smith Art Museum

The oldest Maki-e in existence now is the ornamentation on the sheath of the Kara-tachi sword with gilded silver fittings and inlay in Togidashi technique held by Shōsōin in Nara, Japan.

Kara-tachi Sword (replica)

Maki-e objects were initially designed as household items for court nobles; they soon gained more popularity and were adopted by royal families and military leaders as a symbol of power.

Kōami Shinzaburō

To create different colours and textures, maki-e artists use a variety of metal powders including gold, silver, copper, brass, lead, aluminum, platinum, and pewter, as well as their alloys.

British Museum
Edo Period

Maki-e can be left to dry, as is maki-hanashi, or relacquered and polished (togidashi maki-e).

Ida Senshū

 It is frequently decorated with reed-style pictures (ashide-e) or combined with inlays of other metals or mother-of-pearl (raden). 

Laquered Karabitsu
Late Edo

Hiramaki-e has a low-relief design, and takamaki-e has a high-relief design.

Bamboo tubes and soft brushes of various sizes are used for laying powders and drawing fine lines.

Igarashi Dôho

As it requires highly skilled craftsmanship to produce a maki-e painting, young artists usually go through many years of training to develop the skills and to ultimately become maki-e masters.

Namiki

Maki-e artwork can be found all across the Internet.  

Sunday Evening Art Gallery Blog — Katsushika Hokusai

An image seen on a hundred different walls, on placemats, screensavers, postcards.

Mount-Fuji-Seen-Below-a-Wave-at-Kanagawa-large

And yet the incredible history of the artist Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849) is a magical tale of its own.

A-Beautiful-Woman-large

Hokusai was born on the 23rd day of 9th month of the 10th year of the Hōreki period (October or November 1760) to an artisan family, in the Katsushika district of Edo, Japan.

Amida-Waterfall-on-the-Kisokaido-Road-(Kisoji-no-oku-Amidagataki)

Hokusai was a Japanese master artist and printmaker of ukkiyo-e, a style of wood block prints and paintings.

Weeping-Cherry-and-Bullfinch

Hokusai is best-known as author of the woodblock print series Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji (c. 1831) which includes the iconic and internationally recognized print, The Great Wave off Kanagawa, created during the 1820s (first image above).

Landscape-with-a-Hundred-Bridges-large

Hokusai was known by a dozen different names through his lifetime, most likely reflecting the different artistic manifestations he went through.

Flock of Chickens

It is this restlessness, this thirst for life and art, that inspired countless other artesians on this continent and others.

Bell-Flower-and-Dragonfly-large

And it is this quiet beauty that has withstood the winds of time.

People-Crossing-an-Arched-Bridge-(Ariwara-no-Narihira)-large

You can see all of Katsushika Hokusai‘s art at his website http://www.katsushikahokusai.org/.