Monday, February 25, 2008

Lost In The Library, Installment 3, Japanese Colour Prints

I have always found Japanese water-colours to be a fascinating form of art representing a very distinct style and culture. Thankfully for myself and others who enjoy Asian art in general, and Japanses art specificaly, Westminster''s CFL owns a wonderful collection of Asian art books including J. Hiller's wonderful collection of water-colours entitled Japanese Colour Prints, a concise collection suitable for those wishing to forgo the often overwhelming art collections available detailing Japanese art.

Many examples of the style are familiar to Americans because of the widespread popularity and disemination of water-colour images in Japan and abroad after the country was opened to interaction with the West. The style gained prominence in 17th and 18th century Japan with its own school of art called ukiyo-e, translated as "pictures of the floating world." The rise of the Japanese color-print contrasted greatly with Western traditions which detailed reality and the telling of a story, whereas ukiyo-e placed emphasis on technique involving lines and brushstrokes. In his introduction Hiller notes, "The Japanese genius was for the expressive line, for pattern and design, the representation of natural objects as a means to an end, not an end in itself." Japanese Colour Prints and other books dealing with Japanese art (see below) are available in the CFL. In addition, the websites listed below should offer wonderful collections of images in the ikiyo-e style and tradition.

Websites of Interest:
Viewing Japanese Prints
"Illustrated essays on the artists, designs, and techniques of traditional and modern Japanese woodblock prints."

Connecticut College Japanese Prints
A large collection of Japanese prints from Connecticut College

Books of Interest in the CFL Collection:
Hiroshige's Woodblock Prints: A Guide
Edward F. Strange
769.92 STRANGE

Primitive Ukiyo-e From the James A. Michener Collection in the Honolulu Academy of Arts
Howard A. Link
769.952 HONOLULU

- Christopher Bishop

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