Exhibition dates: 6 October 2018 – 6 January 2019
To celebrate the Year of Japan in France, the Fondation Custodia in Paris presents an important retrospective exhibition of early twentieth-century Japanese prints.
Waves of renewal. Modern Japanese Prints 1900-1960 offers an exciting opportunity to discover, almost for the first time in France, the work of artists who bear witness to the twentieth-century modernisation of Japan. It explores the twin movements of shin hanga and sōsaku hanga through more than two hundred prints – the work of about fifty artists.
At the beginning of the twentieth century, two movements were born in Japan, each representing a different response to this new deal and of fascinating diversity. The printer Watanabe Shōzaburō (1885-1962) became anxious about the flow of prints to the West, and also by the dwindling of the technical skills required for the production of high quality prints. He decided to seek out artists capable of reviving printmaking and of creating a new style, without dispensing with the traditional division of labour – in other words, four people working in collaboration, the artist, the engraver, the printer and the publisher. The movement inspired by Watanabe is called shin hanga, or ‘new print’. The subject of these ‘new prints’ remained within the traditional categories – landscape, portraits of women and actors, flowers and birds in innovative styles.
Inspired by western practice, and keen to raise the status of printmaking, the partisans of sōsaku hanga wanted to give back to the artist control of all the stages of production, without the intervention of specialised craftsmen such as the engraver or the printer. The mark of the chisel on the block of wood became the expression of the artist’s personality, as was the calligrapher’s or painter’s brushstroke on paper. By comparison with the prints of shin hanga, the results can be of rougher quality and can be marked by a feeling of spontaneity, of the impromptu – sometimes seeming unfinished.
For further information visit the website of the Fondation Custodia