Utagawa Kunisada (Japanese: 歌川 国貞; also known as Utagawa Toyokuni III (三代歌川豊国); 1786 – 12 January 1865) was the most popular, prolific and financially successful designer of ukiyo-e woodblock prints in 19th-century Japan. In his own time, his reputation far exceeded that of his contemporaries, Hokusai, Hiroshige and Kuniyoshi.
At the end of the Edo Period (1603–1867), Hiroshige, Kuniyoshi and Kunisada were the three best representatives of the Japanese color woodcut in Edo (capital city of Japan, now Tokyo). However, among European and American collectors of Japanese prints, beginning in the late 19th and early 20th century, all three of these artists were actually regarded as rather inferior to the greats of classical ukiyo-e, and therefore as having contributed considerably to the downfall of their art. For this reason, some referred to their works as “decadent”.
Beginning in the 1930s and 1970s, respectively, the works of Hiroshige and Kuniyoshi were submitted to a re-evaluation, and these two are now counted among the masters of their art. Thus, from Kunisada alone was withheld, for a long time, the acknowledgment which is due to him. With a few exceptions, such as actor portraits (yakusha-e) and portraits of beautiful women (Bijinga), at the beginning of his career, and some series of large-size actor head-portraits near the end, it was thought that he had produced only inferior works. It was not until the early 1990s, with the appearance of Jan van Doesburg’s overview of the artistic development of Kunisada, and Sebastian Izzard’s extensive study of his work, that this picture began to change, with Kunisada more clearly revealed as one of the “giants” of the Japanese print that he was.
Léonard Tsugouharu Foujita was a painter and printmaker born in Tokyo, Japan who applied Japanese ink techniques to Western style paintings.
Immediately after graduating secondary school, Foujita wished to study in France, but on the advice of Mori Ogai (his father’s senpai military physician) he decided to study western art in Japan first. In 1910 when he was twenty-four years old Foujita graduated from what is now the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music. His paintings during the period before he moved to France were often signed “Fujita” rather than the gallicized “Foujita” he adopted later.
Three years later he went to Montparnasse in Paris, France. When he arrived there, knowing nobody, he met Amedeo Modigliani, Pascin, Chaim Soutine, and Fernand Léger and became friends with Juan Gris, Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse. Foujita claimed in his memoir that he met Picasso less than a week after his arrival, but a recent biographer, relying on letters Foujita sent to his first wife in Japan, clearly shows that it was several months until he met Picasso. He also took dance lessons from the legendary Isadora Duncan.
Foujita had his first studio at no. 5 rue Delambre in Montparnasse… Many models came over to Foujita’s place to enjoy this luxury, among them Man Ray’s very liberated lover, Kiki, who boldly posed for Foujita in the nude… Another portrait of Kiki titled “Reclining Nude with Toile de Jouy …. was the sensation of Paris at the Salon d’Automne in 1922, selling for more than 8,000 francs…. Within a few years, particularly after his 1918 exposition, he achieved great fame as a painter of beautiful women and cats in a very original technique. He is one of the few Montparnasse artists who made a great deal of money in his early years. By 1925, Tsuguharu Foujita had received the Belgian Order of Leopold and the French government awarded him the Legion of Honor.
After the breakup of his third marriage, and his flight to Brazil in 1931 (with his new love, Mady), Foujita traveled and painted all over Latin America, giving hugely successful exhibitions along the way. In Buenos Aires, Argentina, 60,000 people attended his exhibition, and more than 10,000 queued up for his autograph. In 1932 he contributed a work to the Pax Mundi, a large folio book produced by the League of Nations calling for a prolonged world peace. However, by 1933 he was welcomed back as a minor celebrity to Japan where he stayed and became a noted producer of militaristic propaganda during the war. For example, in 1938 the Imperial Navy Information Office supported his visit to China as an official war artist.
On his return to France, Foujita converted to Catholicism. He was baptised in Reims cathedral on 14 October 1959, with René Lalou (the head of the Mumm champagne house) as his godfather and Françoise Taittinger as his godmother. This is reflected in his last major work,at the age of 80, the design, building and decoration of the Foujita chapel in the gardens of the Mumm champagne house in Reims, France, which he completed in 1966, not long before his death.
Winogrand, Garry (1928-1984) - 1963 Hand Feeding Elephant Trunk, Zoo by RasMarley http://flic.kr/p/dW7Pda In 1948 a fellow student and photographer for Columbia University’s student paper showed Garry Winogrand the darkroom, which was open twenty-four hours in the basement of the architecture building. Two weeks later, Winogrand abandoned painting for photography and “never looked back.” Described as “an undisciplined mixture of energy, ego, curiosity, ignorance, and street-smart naiveté,” the Bronx native photographed incessantly, mostly on the streets, working as a freelance photographer for a picture agency and eventually publishing journalistic images in numerous magazines throughout the fifties.
Around 1960, after being shown a copy of Walker Evans’s book American Photographs, Winogrand began to take a more artistic approach in his work. The first half of the decade, however, was a difficult time, including political disillusionment and the breakup of his first marriage. He persevered in his career and eventually published four books of photographs, including The Animals in 1969, images made in zoos, and Women Are Beautiful in 1975, candid shots of anonymous women on the street. Winogrand used a small-format, 35mm camera that enabled him to photograph quickly and freely, which he did to the extreme: at the time of his death in 1984, he left more than 2,500 undeveloped rolls of film. http://ift.tt/PPlmwi
Image: 45 x 14 1/4 in.; Mount: 81 1/2 x 19 1/2 in.
Kamisaka Sekka (神坂 雪佳?, 1866-1942) was an important artistic figure in early twentieth-century Japan. Born in Kyoto to a Samurai family, his talents for art and design were recognized early. He eventually allied himself with the traditional Rimpa school of art. He is considered the last great proponent of this artistic tradition. Sekka also worked in lacquer and in a variety of other media.
As traditional Japanese styles became unfashionable (such as Rimpa style), Japan implemented policies to promote the country’s unique artistic style by upgrading the status of traditional artists who infused their craft with a dose of modernism. In 1901, Sekka was sent by the Japanese government to Glasgow where he was heavily influenced by Art Nouveau. He sought to learn more about the Western attraction to japonisme, and which elements or facets of Japanese art would be more attractive to the West. Returning to Japan, he taught at the newly opened Kyoto Municipal School of Arts and Crafts, experimented with Western tastes, styles, and methods, and incorporated them into his otherwise traditional Japanese-style works. While he sticks to traditional Japanese subject matter, and some elements of Rimpa painting, the overall effect is very Western and modern. He uses bright colors in large swaths, his images seeming on the verge of being patterns rather than proper pictures of a subject; the colors and patterns seem almost to ‘pop’, giving the paintings an almost three-dimensional quality.
Momoyagusa (A World of Things) is considered Sekka’s woodblock-print masterpiece. The three-volume set was commissioned between 1909 and 1910 by the publishing firm Unsōdō of Kyoto. The Japanese name of the series can first be found in the eighth-century poetic text Collection of Ten Thousand Leaves (Man’yōshū), which refers to a multi-leaved autumnal herb (momoyogusa), possibly a chrysanthemum or wormwood. The sixty image work displays a variety of landscapes, figures, classical themes, and innovative subjects, captured in a small space. They show Sekka’s complete mastery of traditional Rimpa style, as well as combining his own approach and understanding of the innovations influencing Japan at the time.