Kappazuri (stencil printing); ink and colors on paper. Mori, who began as a textile designer, turned to stencil printing in 1954 after receiving encouragement from Yanagi SÃ´etsu. He straddled the worlds of the artist and the artisan-craftsman until 1962, when Serizawa Keisuke criticized Mori in a well-known debate for abandoning the crafts movement. Mori thereafter devoted himself to the art of kappazuri-e. His subjects included kabuki scenes, craftsmen, festivals, and figures from traditional stories. He printed on both colored and unprinted grounds. The Ross Museum print illustrates an example from a series of seven prints from 1973 depicting artisans. Though untitled, this design is known as "Potter under Tiled Roof." It is signed "Y. Mori," dated "73," and numbered 18/70. Arguably the best design from the group, the strength of the potter is admirably portrayed as he works the clay to form the vase. The simplicity of the roof and the boldness of the figure add a sense of monumentality to the design.
Mezzotint; ink and colors on paper, framed under glass. Tomoe Yokoi was born in Nagoya Japan in 1943. She began art studies at Bunk Tokyo College of Art, were the curriculum was traditional techniques. Subject matter stressed was realistic everyday images such as fruits, musical instruments, and flowers. In 1964, following graduation, Yokoi moved to Paris, and studied intaglio printmaking with S. W. Hayter as this famous workshop, Atelier. In Paris Yokoi perfected her technique of mezzotint, expanding its parameters to include more complex images and subtle color nuances. In 1971 Yokoi moved to New York City where she worked and introduced her art to New York audiences. She developed a unique style which combines and is a synthesis of her Japanese, Parisian, and New York experiences.
Woodblock print framed behind glass; ink and colors on paper. SaitÃ´ studied Western-style painting at the HongÃ´ Painting Institute and exhibited his oil paintings with various art groups and societies. After having a print accepted by the Kokugakai ("National Picture Association"), SaitÃ´ began to seriously pursue printmaking. In 1938 he issued his first prints in his now famous "Winter in Aizu" series. After steadily gaining recognition, he won first prize in 1951 at the Sao Paulo, Brazil international biennial exhibition for his print called "Steady Gaze," where it won over both prints and paintings. SaitÃ´ admired Piet Mondrian, and some of his views of buildings and temples seem to display that influence in their simplified forms. SaitÃ´'s prints have been especially popular in the west, although his works are appreciated in Japan as well. He worked primarily in the woodblock medium, while also producing works in collagraph, drypoint, and color and ink paintings (suiboku ga). He carved his images into blocks of various woods, either solid katsura or plywood faced with katsura, rawan, yanagi, keyaki, shina, or lauan, to obtain a wide range of textures. In some cases he used only one block for all the colors in a design, while for others he needed as many as 5 or 6 different blocks. He often used kizuki-hÃ´sho ("genuinely-made hÃ´sho," that is, the fine-quality paper made from kÃ´zo, "Paper mulberry").
Edition 7/30. Woodblock print; ink and colors on paper, framed behind glass. Born in Toyama prefecture. Studied with Munakata Shiko. Exhibited widely in the USA in 1958, Specializes in prints of simplified landscapes with stylized figural imagery such as feathers, flowers, or, as here, butterflies, floating in the air.
Color aquatint; ink and colors on paper, framed under glass. Born in Kawasaki, Ouchi started making prints around 1968. He exhibited with both Japanese domestic and international print groups and specialized in finely produced images of the faces of Edo-period Kabuki actors on stacked cubes, as in the Ross Museum example. One author describes him as follows: "Ouchi compresses the lapse of centuries in these piungent contemporary compositions and satirizes the ephemeral quality of time by the presence of butterflies and dragonflies that flutter incongruously along the edges of his works" (from Blakemore, p. 153). Another author notes his devotion to "the Kabuki Theater since childhood when he began spending much time around the actors, and through the years became familiar with their roles.â€¦ Ouchi explained that as time goes by, and as older actors pass on their roles to younger ones, though the actors change, they portray the characters in the same manner as before â€“ generation after generationâ€¦[he] sees his Kabuki themes in a modern format which reflects his view of contemporary lifeâ€¦the cube to him represents the man-made confinement of mankind, the intrusions on man's freedoms. 'Right angles are made by man, while curved lines â€“ of fruits, for instance â€“ are made by nature.'" (from Johnson and Hilton, pp. 51-52).