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Kawase Hasui: The Complete Woodblock Prints, 2 Volumesby Kendall H Brown
Synopses & Reviews
Kawase Hasui (1883-1957) is considered one of the most important Japanese landscape artists of the 20th century. His prints, produced under the guidance and stern eye of his publisher, Watanabe Shtzaburt, are the modern continuation of the unforgettable works by Hiroshige and Hokusai, the 19th-century masters of this genre. As none other, he could evoke Japan of the eventful interwar period. With the exception of a single print, his main oeuvre is shown in its entirety in full colour in this new publication. Also included are the prints Hasui produced for other publishers, including pieces never before reproduced, as well as monochrome illustrations of miscellaneous prints, such as postcards, doll prints and others. Fifty-seven prints are shown in alternative states. Hasui's work enjoyed huge popularity from his very first print of 1918. In contrast to his illustrious 19th-century predecessors, his work was immediately successful in the rest of the world. His publisher, Watanabe Shtzaburt, recognized the enormous potential of the American market, which resulted in Hasui's prints fetching high prices at auctions in New York as early as the 1920s. After the Second World War, his prints were highly desired and sought after collectible items among the American occupying forces in Japan. Hasui's work has always been greatly appreciated in Japan: He was acknowledged as a 'Living National Treasure' in 1965, but it was only in 1977 that one of the 'grand old men' in the field of prints in Japan, Narazaki Muneshige, wrote a splendid monograph. His book, which is only very occasionally available at antiquarian bookshops, is now being replaced by this new complete, bilingual (English-Japanese)publication. Hotei Publishing produced this book in close cooperation with the daughter and grandson of the original publisher of 90% of Hasui's oeuvre, Watanabe Shtzaburt. The best examples of Hasui's work have been selected from three prominent collections (Dutch, American and Japanese). The introduction by Ken Brown is based on the results of his extensive research in Japan, interviews with the Watanabe family, and all Japanese- and European-language sources. The commentaries to the prints consist partly of fragments from Hasui's diaries (appearing here in English for the first time), partly of explanations derived from Narazaki Muneshige's observations, and partly of new information intended to provide Western readers with the background to the outstanding Japanese rural and urban landscapes Hasui selected for his depictions. The chapter by Watanabe Shtichirt provides insights into his grandfather's publishing philosophy and is a helpful guide for collectors confronting the complex issues of editions, versions and variations.
Kawase Hasui (1883-1957) was the foremost landscape print artist of the 20th century. His work is characterised by a fascination with light, climatic conditions and tranquillity. His oeuvre consists of over 700 designs of which the largest proportion was produced for the initiator of the Shin hanga ('new print') movement, Watanabe Sh?zabur?. This publication illustrates his entire oeuvre in colour including, for the first time, all the designs he produced for other publishers. The illustrations are predominantly taken from the two largest collections of Hasui prints in the world: the collections of Robert O. Muller and the Watanabe family. This bilingual publication includes essays by Ken Brown and Sh?ichir? Watanabe, facsimiles of seals and signatures and a bibliography.
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