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Japan Museum SieboldHuis is pleased to present ‘Sōsaku hanga. Creative print art from Japan. From 17 December 2021 to 13 March 2022 over 140 works of the sōsaku hanga movement will be on display showcasing the creative autonomy of the Japanese print artists. ‘Sōsaku hanga’ is a must see exhibition for lovers of traditional Japanese prints and connoisseurs of modern art.
Portrait of Hagiwara Sakutarō (Author of The Iceland), Onchi Kōshirō (1891 - 1955). 1943. Collection Nihon no hanga Amsterdam
Japan has been printing woodblocks since the 17th century. Originally several craftsmen would work together commissioned by a publisher. The publisher chose the subject or theme, the artist created the design, the woodblock cutter carved the design and the printer pressed the design onto paper. This traditional view of print making changed in the 20th century when Yamamoto Kanae (1882-1946) made a print solely on his own, drawing, carving and printing the image. Kanae saw the art of print making as more than reproduction. His new interpretation of the Japanese woodblock print: creative print art, gave way to a movement we have now come to know as sōsaku hanga.
Girls of the shooting gallery, Kawanishi Hide (1894 - 1965). 1933. Collection Nihon no hanga
Sōsaku hanga: a unique modern Japanese art form
Yamamoto’s vision also appealed to other artists. They too were in search of freedom, self-expression and individual style. Contrary to earlier generations they no longer followed the style of their teachers. It was important for many sōsaku hanga artists to design, produce and publish themselves. They experimented with printing materials, abandoned traditional 19th century print formats and began combining woodblocks with lithography. In their works, the artists explored and sought answers to their questions surrounding the traditions and modernity of Japan.
The creative prints have remarkable styles, lines and formats and showcase lesser-known Japanese themes and everyday topics. A woman in kimono in front of a mirror by Tobari Kogan and the print by Kawanishi Hide of two girls in a shooting gallery are two good examples of these themes. The more traditional Japanese themes such as landscapes and natural beauty will also be highlighted. A modern and stylized interpretation of the iconic snow-topped mount Fuji by Kawabata Ryushi will also be on view.
The social and cultural development and the modernization of Japan will be presented in, for example, the print of modern buildings and the riverbank near the Sukiya bridge by Koizumi Kishio. Impressions of modern architecture and Western influences in daily life will also be exhibited in Japan Museum SieboldHuis.
Riverside at Sukiya-Bridge, Koizumi Kishio (1893 - 1945). 1935. Collection Nihon no hanga
‘Sōsaku hanga’ presents a chronological overview of the development of the creative print art in 20th century Japan in over 140 works of the most important sōsaku hanga-artists. All works are from Nihon no hanga collection. This is part one of a two-part exhibition. Part two will highlight ‘shin hanga’ (new print art) with works from collections from home and abroad.
Catalogue and activities
A richly illustrated catalogue by guest curator Maureen de Vries will accompany the exhibitions. A varied and informative activities programme will be offered. For more information on the exhibition, activities and admission see: www.sieboldhuis.org.