Contemporary Japanese Prints, Handmade Ceramics & Jewelry, Japanese Antiques, California Artists & Sculptors


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Kawase Hasui
1883 - 1957
Medium: Woodblock

Hasui was one of the most prominent of the early twentieth century woodblock print artists and the first to be named a Living National Treasure in Japan. He is usually considered to be a member of the Shin Hanga (New Prints) school of printmakers. This movement was modeled after the older Ukiyo-e (Floating World) style. In both, the publisher commissioned artists, hired carvers and printers, and was in charge of distribution. Often, the publisher also decided which themes and subject matter would be depicted.

Hasui worked with several publishers before beginning his long affiliation with Shozaburo Watanabe. Watanabe was a major publisher who worked with Shinsui Ito and Shunsen Natori, as well as Hasui Kawase. The primary audience for this work was foreigners, especially Americans. As a result, themes were somewhat romantic and idyllic renditions of famous temples, landscapes and other images thought to appeal to westerners. Of course, the beauty of the work appealed to many Japanese as well.

Hasui's subjects included such themes as spring blossoms, summer rains, autumn foliage, and gentle snowfalls. In addition, this well-known artist also used different times of day to make his images even more appealing. He did many night-time scenes, with numerous delicate gradations of gray, blue and brown. In each, there is careful and subtle rendering using woodblock techniques which usually require a separate block and printing for each color.

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