Sep 11, 2023
When making mokuhanga and producing The Unfinished Print, I have looked towards various online tools for research and inspiration. One of these tools is ukiyo-e.org. A Japanese woodblock print database which collects and archives woodblock print collections from around the world.
John Resig is the chief software architect at the Khan Academy who, in 2013, for his love of mokuhanga and the Japanese woodblock print, and through his own collection, developed ukiyo-e.org. Those researching, collecting, and making mokuhanga can explore some of the best Japanese print collections at the click of a button.
In this episode of The Unfinished Print, I speak with ukiyo-e.org developer John Resig about why he decided to create the website and how his collecting of mokuhanga and making mokuhanga affected that decision. We also discuss the evolution of the humanities in mokuhanga, archiving prints, tradition, and the copywriting of images, as well as John's work with the Japanese Art Society of America.
Notes: may contain a hyperlink. Simply click on the highlighted word or phrase.
Artists works follow after the note. Pieces are mokuhanga unless otherwise noted. Dimensions are given if known.
Sky Above Clouds IV: After Georgia O'Keefe (2019)
Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1798-1861) - is considered one of the last “masters” of the ukiyo-e genre of Japanese woodblock printmaking. His designs range from landscapes, samurai and Chinese military heroes, as well as using various formats for his designs such as diptychs and triptychs.
Five portraits of the actor Ichikawa Danjuro VIII (1823-1854) in various roles (1849)
yakusha-e - (役者絵) is the Japanese term for actor prints in mokuhanga.
Utagawa Kunisada (1786-1865)
Tsukioka Yoshitoshi 1839-1892 (月岡 芳年) was a mokuhanga designer who is famous for his prints depicting violence and gore. His work is powerful, colourful, and one of the last vibrant moments of the ukiyo-e genre of woodblock prints. More information about Yoshitoshi’s life and his copious amount of work can be found, here.
Iga no Tsubone and the Ghost of Fujiwara Nakanari, from the series One Hundred Ghost Stories from China and Japan (1865)
Annie Bissett - is an American mokuhanga printmaker and graphic designer based in Rhode Island, USA. Her work touches on politics, and beauty. Her interview with The Unfinished Print can be found, here. Annie's work can be found, here.
Onchi Kōshirō (1891-1955) - originally designing poetry and books Onchi became on of the most I important sōsaku hanga artists and promotor of the medium. His works are saught after today. More info, here.
Portrait of a Poet: Hagiwara Sakutarō (1886-1942)
Meiji Era Prints - The Meiji Era of Japan was between 1868-1912 CE. This was a period of immense modernization and industrialization in Japan, where the Japanese economy was booming. New ideas within mokuhanga was occurring as well. Perspective, colour, through new pigments (gamboge, certain yellows), the advancement of photography, and new topics and themes (war, industry, architecture), the Meiji era print designer and publisher had a lot of choice when producing their prints.
Shigeru Kuriyama (1912-2010) - was a sōsaku hanga printmaker who worked with Onchi Kōshirō (1891-1956), and U'nichi Hiratsuka (1895-1997). He founded the print magazine Yukari and Kasuri. His prints were focused on folk arts.
Fragrance of Lavender (1996)
sōsaku-hanga - or creative prints, is a style of printmaking which is predominantly, although not exclusively, prints made by one person. It started in the early twentieth century in Japan, in the same period as the shin-hanga movement. The artist designs, carves, and prints their own works. The designs, especially in the early days, may seem rudimentary but the creation of self-made prints was a breakthrough for printmakers moving away from where only a select group of carvers, printers and publishers created woodblock prints.
Your First Print: David Bull - this was the first DVD I ever purchased on how to make mokuhanga. This was in and around 2007. While I look back at that time thinking about why I didn't take it up as seriously as I do now, I sometime wonder, "Where would I be now in my Mokuhanga journey?" I realize that that is a redundant way of thinking. I am where I am now today, and to be happy with just that. You can still find this product on Dave's website.
April Vollmer - is an established artist who works predominantly in mokuhanga. Her book Japanese Woodblock Print Workshop is one of the most authoritative books on the subject and has influenced many mokuhanga artists. April's interview with The Unfinished Print can be found, here.
Wood Like Matsumura - is an online and brick and mortar store, for woodblock printmaking, located in Nerima City, Tōkyō.
Yoshida Hiroshi (1876-1950) - a watercolorist, oil painter, and woodblock printmaker. Is associated with the resurgence of the woodblock print in Japan, and in the West. It was his early relationship with Watanabe Shōzaburō, having his first seven prints printed by the Shōzaburō atelier. This experience made Hiroshi believe that he could hire his own carvers and printers and produce woodblock prints, which he did in 1925.
Kiso River (1927)
kabuki - is a traditional form of Japanese theatre which started in Kyoto on the banks of the Kamo River in the 17th Century. Today it is a multi million dollar business and is almost exclusively run, professionally, by The Shochiku Company. Kabuki, the word, is separated into three different sounds; ka - meaning to sing, bu - meaning to dance, and ki- meaning skill. There are various families in kabuki which generate actors, passing down tradition throughout the lineage. For more information please read this fine article from Nippon.com. There are many books written on the subject of kabuki, but in my opinion, to begin, one needs to read Leonard Pronko's work Theatre East & West, Kawatake Toshio's Kabuki, and Earl Ernst's The Kabuki Theatre. Online, please visit Kabuki21.com, who's site is unparalleled. On YouTube there is the new(ish) Kabuki In-Depth which is updated regularly on kabuki information and history, and is very well done.
Georgia O'Keeffe (1887 – 1986) was a renowned American artist, known for her pioneering contributions to modern American art, particularly in the realm of abstract and contemporary art.
Lake George Reflection (1921)
bokashi - is a mokuhanga technique, where the pigment fades from a heavy colour to a softer, broad colour. Made famous by prints designed by Hokusai and Hiroshige, this technique is, for me, the most popular technique utilized by mokuhanga printmakers. There are various types: Ichimoji-bokashi or straight line graduation, used in the above mentioned Hiroshige and Hokusai prints. Ichimoji-mura-bokashi or straight line gradation with uneven edge. Ō-bokashi or wide gradation, Ate-nashi-bokashi or gradation without definition. Futa-iro-bokashi or two tone gradation, and ita-bokashi or softer-edge gradation, where the block is cut in a specific way to achieve this style of gradation. All of these styles of bokashi technique take practice and skill but are very much doable.
Bertha Lum (1869-1954) - was born in Iowa. Having begun travelling to Japan in 1903, Bertha Lum noticed the decline of the Japanese woodblock print in Japan in the early 20th Century, deciding to take up the medium. Lum began making woodblock prints after learning in Japan from an unknown teacher during her first trip to Japan.
Japan, Lafcadio Hearn (1850-1904), and China influenced Bertha Lum's prints. Lum's work focused on these themes through an American lens.
Frances Gearhart (1869-1958) - Born in Illinois, Gearhart was a self-taught artist who spent most of her life in California. Originally a watercolorist, Frances Gearhart began experimenting with Japanese woodblock and linoleum in and around 1913. The themes of her work are predominately landscapes of the Pacific Coast and other areas of California. Her work is associated with the Arts and Crafts movement in California. A fine article on Frances Gearhart's life can be found, here.
In The Sun (1930)
Fujio Yoshida (1887-1997) - the wife of Hiroshi Yoshida and the mother of Tōshi Yoshida (1911-1995) and Hodaka Yoshida (1926-1995). Fujio was so much more than a mother and wife. She had a long and storied career as a painter and printmaker. Fujio’s work used her travels and personal experiences to make her work. Subjects such as Japan during The Pacific War, abstraction, portraits, landscapes, still life, and nature were some of her themes. Her painting mediums were watercolour and oil. Her print work was designed by her and carved by Fujio.
TinEye - is an image search and recognition company. They use technology which allows the user to search an image creating a reverse image match. More information can be found, here.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art - is the largest art museum in North and South America. It began to be assembled by John Jay (1817-1894) in the late 19th century. Incorporated in 1870, the museum has collected many essential pieces, such as the works of Henri Matisse (1869-1954) and Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919). For more information about the MET, you can find it here.
Waseda University - is a private research university located in Tōkyō, Japan. It was established in 1882. Waseda has one of the largest woodblock print databases in the world, and are free to use. More information can be found, here.
Ristumeikan - is a university founded in 1869, and located in Kyoto and Ōsaka. Like Waseda it holds one of the largest collection of Japanese woodblock prints. You can search their database, here.
Mike Lyon - is an American artist. His medium has been varied throughout his career such as "square tiles," or "pixels," through to making mokuhanga, monoprinting, and machine-assisted etching, drawing and mezzotint. Mike Lyon also has a large woodblock print collection which he has curated for the public, here. More information about his work can be found, here.
Linda In Black (2019)
Frick Reference Library - is a reference library in the Frick Museum in New York City. The museum was once the mansion of wealthy American industrialist Henry Clay Frick (1849-1919). The museum houses some of the finest pieces of sculpture, paintings, and art in the United States. There is also the public Frick Reference Library located on 10E 71st Street in New York City. More information can be found, here.
Hokusai: Inspiration and Influence - was an exhibition held from March 26 - July 16, 2023 at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston. More information can be found, here.
Japanese Art Society of America (JASA) - Starting in 1973 by a small group of collectors of ukiyo-e in New York City, JASA has expanded to cover many Japanese arts. Their magazine Impressions is a biannual magazine that discusses in a scholarly way various Japanese arts. More information can be found, here.
Utagawa Hiroshige (1797-1858) - born in Edo, Hiroshige is famous for his landscape series of that burgeoning city. The most famous series being, One Hundred Famous Views of Edo (1856-1859), and the landcape series, Fifty-Three Stations of the Tōkaidō (1833-1834). His work highlights bokashi, and bright colours. More info about his work can be found, here. Below is, Coastal Landscape In Moonlight (1857)
Kingfisher and Iris
Scholten Japanese Art - is a mokuhanga-focused art gallery in midtown Manhattan. René Scholten, an avid collector of the Japanese print, founded it. You can find more info here. Katherine Martin is the managing director of Scholten Japanese Art. Katherine has written extensively for the gallery and conducted lectures about Japanese prints. Her interview with The Unfinished Print can be found, here.
International Mokuhanga Conference - is a bi-yearly conference dedicated to mokuhanga which started in 2011 by the International Mokuhanga Association. Each conference is themed. The latest conference was in 2021, delayed a year because of the pandemic. More information can be found, here.
Cameron Bailey - is a mokuhanga woodblock printmaker based in Queens, New York. His work is predominantly reduction woodblock. Camerons work has shown around the world. You can listen to one of his earliest interviews on The Unfinished Print, here. His work can be found, here.
sumo - while sumo wrestling has been known to Western audiences for quite some time, it is only in the past several years that the Japan Broadcasting Corporation (NHK) has created content for Western audiences to watch tournaments and engage with wrestlers through videos, such as YouTube.
Sumo prints were being produced in the Edo Period (1603-1868), with the Kastukawa school of artists beginning to create prints in the vein of actor prints of the day (yakusha-e).
Utagawa Kunisada (1786-1865) A portrait of Inoyama Moriemon (1846)
Acolytes of The Baren - is the Facebook group dedicated to Dave Bull and Mokuhankan. It can be found, here.
Emerging Hanga - is a Facebook group dedicated to new mokuhanga, and sharing information. It can be found, here.
Brush & Baren - is a Facebook group dedicated to sharing the history of mokuhanga of the late 19th and early 20th Century. It can be found, here.
Friends of Baren Forum - is a Facebook group dedicated to those interested in mokuhanga and woodblock printing in general. it can be found, here.
opening and closing musical credit - Flowers & Fire by BLITZ. From the album Second Empire Justice (1983), first released on Future Records.
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***The opinions expressed by guests in The Unfinished Print podcast are not necessarily those of André Zadorozny and of Popular Wheat Productions.***