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  • Thumbnail for Fleeing Refugees
    Fleeing Refugees by Li Hwa/Li Hua

    Woodcut of a mother and her two children following a procession of other refugees away from a destroyed village depicted in the far right-hand corner.

  • Thumbnail for Distant view of Mt. Asama from Urawa stationq
    Distant view of Mt. Asama from Urawa stationq by Eisen Keisai

    Keisai Eisen was born in Edo, the son of a calligraphy artist. He was apprenticed to Kikugawa Eizan and studied traditional painting before becoming a printmaker. Throughout his career, Eisen’s work was productive and varied. Book illustrations and prints were his first commissioned works. Early on, he achieved lasting fame for his bijin-ga (pictures of beautiful women), and both contributed to and edited the Ukiyo-e ruiko (History of Prints of the Floating World) one of the few surviving sources of information-rich material on printmaking art and artists in Japan. At times, he struck partnerships with other artists of his age, such as his collaboration with Hiroshige, which resulted in a series of landscape prints entitled The Sixty-nine Stations on the Kiso Highway. Eisen also released many surimono (privately issued prints), shunga (erotic prints), and some landscape pieces. In addition to his career as a printmaker, Eisen pursued other sources of income. A self-described hard-drinker who humbly titled his version of Japanese print history Mumeio zhuihitsu (Essays by a Nameless Old Man), Eisen was also the manager and proprietor of a brothel for a time. Today, however he is most famous for his portrayals of the beauties of old Japan. As a result of the success of Hiroshige’s “Fifty-three Stations of the Tokaido, publishers commissioned many artists to do series in similar veins. Eisen both collaborated with Hiroshige and executed his own series of images from the Kisokaido (Great Western Highway).

  • Thumbnail for Anti-American imperialism poster - 3 of 3
    Anti-American imperialism poster - 3 of 3

    Series of images showing the US involvement in Asia over the first half of the 20th century. In this final section, the US portrayed as Uncle Sam is defeated by the rising sun of Mao Zedong.

  • Thumbnail for The Minister of the Right, Minamoto Yoritomo Setting thousands of Cranes Free in Front of Tsurugaoka Hachiman Shrine, Kamakura to Receive the Blessing of a Pious and Virtuous Life
    The Minister of the Right, Minamoto Yoritomo Setting thousands of Cranes Free in Front of Tsurugaoka Hachiman Shrine, Kamakura to Receive the Blessing of a Pious and Virtuous Life by Utagawa Kuniyoshi

    The son of a silk dyer, Utagawa Kuniyoshi was apprenticed to the printmaker Utagawa Toyokuni I. whose other pupils included Toyoshige and Kunisada. Unlike his master, who specialized in actor portraits, Kuniyoshi excelled in depicting historical scenes and events along with celebrated warriors. Like many of his contemporaries, the artist experimented widely, producing prints of everything from landscapes to erotica. Kuniyoshi’s first published work was a set of book illustrations released in 1814, although his name remained obscure for several years until his publication of a print series depicting 75 heroes from Japanese lore and legend. When prints of actors and beautiful women (bijin-ga) were banned by the Japanese government in 1842, the Japanese middle class became enthusiastic supporters of Kuniyoshi’s seemingly inoffensive historical prints. In 1843, the artist released a satirical triptych print criticizing the Shogun, launching an official investigation that resulted in the destruction of Kuniyoshi’s woodblocks and unsold prints, as well as an official censure. The print, however, remained popular with the middle class. This prints was most likely commissioned by the official named in its title or done to court the favor of said official. The long title and large size of the print were meant to denote the official’s importance.

  • Thumbnail for The Courtesan Miyakoji of Tamaya Brothel and her Attendants in Edo-cho Itchome Street
    The Courtesan Miyakoji of Tamaya Brothel and her Attendants in Edo-cho Itchome Street by Kikugawa Eizan

    From the Seiro Meikun Zoroi (A Set of Famous Courtesans from Green Houses) series. Though he studied with his father, many consider Kikugawa Eizan to be the best of the late followers of Utamaro. Known for his highly elegant (furyu) bijin-ga the artist continued a stylish elegance that many of his contemporaries eschewed for a more earthy realism. Curiously, he all but ceased ukiyo-e printmaking in the 1820s, a full forty years before his death. Bijin-ga (images of beauties) might be of actual contemporary and historic women or of an idealized type of beauty specific to a time and region. Courtesans in particular were usually depicted in the latest and most elaborate fashions of the day. After an increasing number of censorship laws were passed to limit the production of prints of famous courtesans, thought to corrupt the morals of the citizens of Japan, many artists turned to domestic images of mothers and daughters or women with servants and generalized pictures of the latest fashions in order to satisfy the demand for bijin-ga and skirt the laws.

  • Thumbnail for The courtesan Yaegiri of the Oginoya Brothel and a portrait of the priest Jakuren
    The courtesan Yaegiri of the Oginoya Brothel and a portrait of the priest Jakuren by Utagawa Hiroshige

    One of the most well known 19th century ukiyo-e artists, famous for his landscape views, particularly his images of the Tokaido. Jakuren was a poet and a Buddhist monk was instrumental in compiling the Shinkokinshu (New Collection of Ancient and Modern Waka), around 1205 – 1206, which included thirty-five of his own works. The poem card at the top of this image depicts an image of the poet and his poem which was number eighty-seven in the well-known Ogura Hyakunin Isshu (One Hundred Poems by 100 Artists), a collection of tanka (five line poems of 31 syllables, arranged as 5, 7, 5, 7, 7).

  • Thumbnail for Two women with infant
    Two women with infant by Utamaro Kitagawa

    The dominant ukiyo-e artist of the late 18th century, Utamaro is as famous for his legendary life as for his unsurpassed images of courtesans and famous beauties of his day. Bijin-ga (images of beauties) might be of actual contemporary and historic women or of an idealized type of beauty specific to a time and region. Courtesans in particular were usually depicted in the latest and most elaborate fashions of the day. After an increasing number of censorship laws were passed to limit the production of prints of famous courtesans, thought to corrupt the morals of the citizens of Japan, many artists turned to domestic images of mothers and daughters or women with servants and generalized pictures of the latest fashions in order to satisfy the demand for bijin-ga and skirt the laws.

  • Thumbnail for After Hiroshige, front view stage 2
    After Hiroshige, front view stage 2 by unknown

    One of nineteen prints which illustrate the process of making a multi-block multicolor woodblock print.The print reproduced is the view of Asakusa Kinryuzan (Asakusa Kannon Temple) from Ando Hiroshige’s Toto yukimi hakkei (Eight Views of Snow in the Eastern Capital).

  • Thumbnail for Moonlit Bridge on the Sumida River, front view
    Moonlit Bridge on the Sumida River, front view by Kobayashi Eijir?

    From the Hasegawa series. Inked in dark blue and black, this view of the bridge from below evokes Hiroshige, Kuniyoshi, and Whistler.

  • Thumbnail for The Window, front view
    The Window, front view by Kawanishi Hide

    In contrast to Kawanishi’s view of the industrial port of Kobe, this print represents the modern-looking traditional side of Japan, with starkly vertical and horizontal lines of shoji screens opened just enough to reveal a stone lantern and garden greenery. This work is a charming example of how sosaku hanga could emphasize the apparent paradox of the inherent modernity of traditional Japan.

  • Thumbnail for Pathway to a Shrine, front view
    Pathway to a Shrine, front view by Kobayashi Eijir?

    Appears from the size and paper quality to also come from the Hasegawa set. The view, looking out of a shrine gateway toward distant houses, with a full moon floating above, is lyrical and evocative.

  • Thumbnail for After Hiroshige, front view stage 17
    After Hiroshige, front view stage 17 by unknown

    One of nineteen prints which illustrate the process of making a multi-block multicolor woodblock print.The print reproduced is the view of Asakusa Kinryuzan (Asakusa Kannon Temple) from Ando Hiroshige’s Toto yukimi hakkei (Eight Views of Snow in the Eastern Capital).

  • Thumbnail for After Hiroshige, front view stage 18
    After Hiroshige, front view stage 18 by unknown

    One of nineteen prints which illustrate the process of making a multi-block multicolor woodblock print.The print reproduced is the view of Asakusa Kinryuzan (Asakusa Kannon Temple) from Ando Hiroshige’s Toto yukimi hakkei (Eight Views of Snow in the Eastern Capital).

  • Thumbnail for Le Billet Doux
    Le Billet Doux by Paul Jacoulet (1896-1960)

    Color woodblock print, 15-1/2 x 12". “The Love Letter†[le billet doux] depicts a Mongolian woman crouching and turning round to meet the viewer’s eye. This image is printed on gold-flecked paper, and uses silver and gold ink sparingly to produce a subtle richness. The round purse at her waist is embossed. Jacoulet was born in Paris, but from a very young age lived in Japan.

  • Thumbnail for Hakone from Fifty-three Famous Places (Gojûsan tsugi meishozue)
    Hakone from Fifty-three Famous Places (Gojûsan tsugi meishozue) by Utagawa (Andô) Hiroshige

    Woodblock print. 13¾" x 9". Paper was issued in the Tokugawa Period (1615-1868) in standard sizes, most prints being in the oban format of 15 x10. The smaller size of this print thus indicates cutting. Condition good with some slight damage and staining in center of the print. Professor Mandancy’s letter identifies the work as one of the Fifty-three Stages of the Tokaidô (Tokaidô gojûsan no uchi), that is the set of 1833-34. Actually the print is from the 1855 set, as properly noted in her original list. The first step in making an Ukiyo-e woodblock print was an artist (eshi) painted a composition in ink on paper. The sketch (or later a copy) was pasted down on a plank of wood (usually cherry) and cut away to create the key or outline block. A separate person from the artist, called the cutter (hori), did the carving. A third person -- the rubber (suri) -- took the carved block and, placing it face up, moistened the printing surfaces by quickly brushing on water and glue. Color and ink were then applied by hand and pre-moistened paper placed onto the wet surface. The rubber then took the print by rubbing from behind with a baren (pad of rope covered by bamboo). It is usually presumed that the key block was used to make the patterns for the color blocks. In old views of Ukiyo-e, the key block, being closest to the sketch by the hand of the artist, was considered the most important. Authenticity, therefore, was mostly a matter of comparing lines in a questioned print to those in published, established, or otherwise accepted examples. If there was a match, the print was “genuine,†and often labeled as such on a tag on the back. The print of Hakone is, moreover, very useful for teaching how to look at lines in Ukiyo-e because those forming the border around the image show gaps and are thin, indicating that the key block was old and worn when the print was taken. The lines in Shinagawa are stronger, an important point in determining the work’s better condition.More interestingly, there is a worn area in the right hand corner of Hakone, where the printed line appears to have been scraped off and then drawn back in. Such repairs are common in Ukiyo-e and a much more obvious example is in the print of Shirasuka in the Union College Collection, by the same artist and from the same series. Shirasuka clearly has been repaired. For instance, there is a hole in its lower half of the print that has been filled in and colored to match the surrounding areas. In the lower right hand corner of Shirasuka, there is a place where the line has been obviously scraped off and then redrawn.

  • Thumbnail for Nepal Prayer Flag
    Nepal Prayer Flag

    Entire work, 24 inch square, Image is 20 X 13 inches, printed on cotton.

  • Thumbnail for 53 Stations of the Tokaido - Sakanoshita, Station 49
    53 Stations of the Tokaido - Sakanoshita, Station 49 by Ando Hiroshige (1797 - 1858)

    Color woodblock, 7 X 9 1/4 inches, ink and color on paper. Large white mountain range with travelers looking out appreciating the view. Sakanoshita was a dangerous part of the highway due to bandits. Hiroshige nevertheless focuses on the scenery and the enjoyment of the pilgrim travelers.

  • Thumbnail for Kumamoto Castle in Samidare
    Kumamoto Castle in Samidare by Kawase Hasui

    Color woodblock, 15 1/4 X 10 1/2 inches, ink and color on paper. Shin Hanga print otherwise known as 'Rain in May' by Kawase Hasui.Framed by large green trees on each side, the beautiful roof lines of the castle are revealed on a rainy day in spring. To the left, a humble wooden structure is laid out in horizontal fashion balancing the high rising castle behind it.

  • Thumbnail for 53 stations of the Tokaido: Yoshida - Station 35
    53 stations of the Tokaido: Yoshida - Station 35 by Ando Hiroshige (1797 - 1858)

    Color woodblock, 7 X 9 1/4 inches, ink and color on paper. People passing over a bridge with heavy loads and one woman on a horse. Large section of water with boats in front of the city of Yoshida, high rising buildings in the distance.

  • Thumbnail for 53 Stations of the Tokaido - Goyu, Station 36
    53 Stations of the Tokaido - Goyu, Station 36 by Ando Hiroshige (1797 - 1858)

    Color woodblock, 7 X 9 1/4 inches, ink and color on paper. Bare-chested porters walking over bridge in the post town of Goyu, carrying heavy goods for on poles.

  • Thumbnail for Page from an unidentified book showing a Heian era court lady and child on a veranda
    Page from an unidentified book showing a Heian era court lady and child on a veranda

    Double page woodblock printed book illustration; ink and colors on paper. This book illustrates an unidentified courtly tale of the Heian era, possibly the Tale of Genji, in a conservative, Tosa-school style. It makes an interesting contrast to the illustration of the Tale of Genji, in a more contemporary Ukiyo-e style with bolder colors, by Utagawa Kunisada.

  • Thumbnail for Pomegranates
    Pomegranates by Ito Wako (born 1945)

    Edition: 13/150. Mezzotint; ink and colors on paper.

  • Thumbnail for Ladder
    Ladder by Kim Lim (1936-1997)

    Intaglio print on paper. British sculptor and printmaker of Chinese birth. She grew up in Singapore and at the age of 18 decided to go to London to study at Saint Martin’s School of Art (1954–6) where she took a particular interest in wood-carving; she then transferred to the Slade School of Art, where she concentrated on printmaking, graduating in 1960. Whilst at college she often travelled through Asia and Europe en route back to Singapore, with Indian and South-East Asian sculpture and spirituality making a great impact on her work. While Lim always acknowledged a debt to the work of Constantin Brancusi in her simplification and abstraction of forms, it is in her concern for the specific qualties of materials, as in her use of charred wood to create contrast, that the influence of Eastern spirituality and concepts of balance can be seen. In 1960 she married the painter and sculptor William Turnbull, settling in London but continuing to travel widely. In the 1960s and 1970s her sculptures were mainly carved from wood, using forms inspired by basic rhythmic forms and structures, with each element forming a balanced whole. Her prints from this time also explore these modulations, as in the etchings Set of Eight (1975; see 1995 exh. cat., pp. 24 and 28), which consist of simple patterns of blocks and lines.

  • Thumbnail for Mura - 'Village' - building 1
    Mura - 'Village' - building 1 by Inagaki Nenjiro (1902-1963)

    Portfolio of 20 woodblock prints; ink and light colors on paper. Born Kyoto. Alt. name: Inagaki Nenjiro. Graduated in 1922 Kyoto City School of Fine Arts and Crafts. Became a designer of stencil patterns for fine kimonos. Exhibited in craft divisions of Bunten and Kokugakai from 1941. Held several positions at Kyoto City College of Fine Arts. His work as a stencil-dyed fabric designer was designated an Intangible Cultural Property in 1962. In the 1950s he designed multicolor hanga which have the stylized quality of his textile designs but were printed from single woodblocks at Mikumo Mokuhansha in Kyoto. This company had been founded by Ishihara Tadao in January 1942. It still exists today. The prints in the OWU collection are characteristic of Inagaki's works of the 1950s that resemble his textile designs.

  • Thumbnail for Mura - 'Village' - figures working 2
    Mura - 'Village' - figures working 2 by Inagaki Nenjiro (1902-1963)

    Portfolio of 20 woodblock prints; ink and light colors on paper. Born Kyoto. Alt. name: Inagaki Nenjir_. Grad. 1922 Kyoto City School of Fine Arts and Crafts. Became a designer of stencil patterns for fine kimonos. Exhibited in craft divisions of Bunten and Kokugakai from 1941. Held several positions at Kyoto City College of Fine Arts. His work as a stencil-dyed fabric designer was designated an Intangible Cultural Property in 1962. In the 1950s he designed multicolor hanga which have the stylized quality of his textile designs but were printed from single woodblocks at Mikumo Mokuhansha in Kyoto. This company had been founded by Ishihara Tadao in January 1942. It still exists today. The prints in the OWU collection are characteristic of Inagaki's works of the 1950s that resemble his textile designs.