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The Unfinished Print

May 31, 2023

During the early days of the COVID-19 Pandemic, being at home with my thoughts, I kept busy by researching mokuhanga. And one of my many discoveries was the exhibition at the Portland Art Museum held from September 24, 2020, to June 13, 2021, called Joryū Hanga Kyøkai, 1956-1965: Japan’s Women Printmakers and curated by The Arlene and Harold Schnitzer Curator of Asian Art, Jeannie Kenmotsu. It was an exhibition of mokuhanga, etchings, and lithography of a group of printmakers I didn’t know much about. Individually I may have heard their names but as a group? I needed to learn more. 
History is an essential part of mokuhanga; to search out those printmakers who have come before us to understand what they did and how they did it. I have learned so much from the past that I can use it in my own work for my present and future.     
On this episode of The Unfinished Print, I speak with Jeannie Kenmotsu, Ph.D., about the Joryu Hanga Kyokai and, the road to this exhibition, the work that went behind it. We explore how the Joryu Hanga Kyokai showed a different face of printmaking in Japan. We discuss Tokyo during the 1950s and 1960s, the mokuhanga and print culture of the time, internationalism, and how this exhibition could catalyze more research on this incredible group. 

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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.

Joryū Hanga Kyōkai, 1956-1965: Japan’s Women Printmakers - was an exhibition curated by Jeannie Kenmotsu from September 24, 2020 - June 13, 2021, at the Portland Art Museum. It is the first step in understanding and education on the subject of women in Japanese printmaking in modern Japan. Members of the group were 

Romanesque Architecture - is a style developed in the north of Italy, parts of France, and the Iberian Peninsula in the 10th century. Evolving from thick walls, no sculpture, and ornamental arches into towering round arches, massive stone and brickwork, small windows, thick walls, and an inclination for housing art and sculpture of biblical scenes.  For more information abbot Romanesquwe architecture you can find that, here

Portland Art Museum - established in 1892, the PAM has established itself as one of the preeminent art musuems on the West coast of the United States. The musuem has 40,000 pieces of art and art objects. More information about PAM can be found here

The Royal Ontario Museum - also known as The ROM, is an art, world culture, and natural history museum in the city of Toronto, and is one of the oldest museums in the city. More info, here

mokuhanga in the 1950’s and 1960’s - Japanese woodblock printmaking became quite popular after World War II. With Japan growing exponentially post war, through industry and art, the independent philosphy that the West perpetuated began to filter into the Jpaanese art world. Sōsaku hanga became increadingly popular where there is only one carver, printer and draughtsman. These prints touched on various themes, but especially in the abstract. Artists such as Shigeru Hatsuyama (1897-1973), and Kiyoshi Saitō (1907-1997) spring to mind, who created a new kind of mokuhanga by using various techniques, colours, and sizes  that were unique and expressive. Oliver Statler’s book, written in 1956, Modern Japanese Prints : An Art Reborn, was published because the art form was growing so quickly. It is a great summary  on the sōsaku hanga movement during that time. 

Edo Period prints - woodblock prints of the Edo Period (1603-1867) were predominantly of kabuki actors (Sharaku), and courtesans (Harunobu) beginning in the middle of the 18th century. The traditional system of production came into play when making ukiyo-e of this period, designer,  carver, printer, and publisher. Famous designers of the day were Hiroshige (1797-1858), Hokusai (1760-1849).

Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition - was an international fair in 1905 held in Portland, Oregan, USA from June 1 - October 15 and attracted over 1 million visitors. It helped to showcase Portland and its environs, promoting the movement and expansion West by settlers. The Portland Art Museum began shortly after the Exposition as The Portland Art Association needed its own space to showcase art pieces from the Exposition. 

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.

Adolphe Braun (1812-1877) - was a German-born photographer who helped to establish photography as an art form. His work with the reproduction of art furthered art history throughout the world.

Chizuko Yoshida (1924-2017) - was the wife of painter and printmaker Hodaka Yoshida. Beginning as an abstract painter, Chizuko, after a meeting with sōsaku hanga printmaker Onchi Kōshirō (1891-1955), Chizuko became interested in printmaking. Chizuko enjoyed the abstraction of art, and this was her central theme of expression. Like all Yoshida artists, travel greatly inspired Chizuko’s work. She incorporated the colours and flavours of the world into her prints.

Rain B (1953) 14 3/4 x 9 7/8"

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. 

Osaka Castle (1935)

Fujio Yoshida (1887-1997) - the wife of Hiroshi Yoshida and the mother of Tōshi Yoshida (1911-1995) and Hodaka Yoshida. 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. 

Yellow Iris (1953) 

Hodaka Yoshida (1926-1995) - was the second son of woodblock printmaker and designer Hiroshi Yoshida (1876-1950). Hodaka Yoshida's work was abstract, beginning with painting and evolving into printmaking. His inspirations varied as his career continued throughout his life, but Hodaka Yoshida's work generally focused on nature, "primitive" art, Buddhism, the elements, and landscapes. Hodaka Yoshida's print work used woodcut, photo etching, collage, and lithography, collaborating with many of these mediums and making original and fantastic works. Outside of prints Hodaka Yoshida also painted and created sculptures.    

Dawn At Sea (1969) - silkscreen 25 5/8" x 19 3/8" (AP)

Tōshi Yoshida (1911-1995) - was the second child of Hiroshi Yoshida and Fujio Yoshida, although the first to survive childhood. Beginning with oil paintings and then apprenticing under his father with woodblock cutting. By 1940 Tōshi started to make his mokuhanga. After his father's death in 1950, Tōshi began to experiment with abstract works and travel to the United States. Later travels to Africa evolved his prints, inspiring Tōshi with the world he experienced as his work focused on animals and nature. 

Irises and Ducks - 19 5/8" x 11 3/4"

Ayomi Yoshida - is the daughter of Chizuko and Hodaka Yoshida. She is a visual artist who works in mokuhanga, installations and commercial design. Ayomi’s subject matter is colour, lines, water, and shape. Ayomi’s lecture referred to by Jeannie at PAM can be found here. She teaches printmaking and art. You can find more info here

Black Marks (1999) 20 1/2 × 20 1/8 in (AP)

Guide to Modern Japanese Woodblock Prints: 1900-1975 - is a book published by the University of Hawai'i in 1995. It is a reference book describing artists, publishers, and carvers. It contains no images but is a valuable resource for the mokuhanga academic. 

Uchima Toshiko (1918-2000) - was a Manchurian-born Japanese artist who worked in mokuhanga, liothography, assemblages and collage. She was one of the founders of the Joryū Hanga Kyōkai in 1955/56. She lived most of her life in the United States, specifically New York City. 

Package From Italy - collage 19.8"x16.8" in

Ansei Uchima (1921-2000) - was a mokuhanga printmaker in the sōsaku hanga style of Japanese printmaking. He was the translator for Japanologist Oliver Statler (1915-2002).

Way For Hakone (1966) 13 3/4 x 21 in

Oliver Statler (1915-2002) -  was an American author and scholar and collector of mokuhanga. He had been a soldier in World War 2, having been stationed in Japan. After his time in the war Statler moved back to Japan where he wrote about Japanese prints. His interests were of many facets of Japanese culture such as accommodation, and the 88 Temple Pilgrimage of Shikoku. Oliver Statler, in my opinion, wrote one of the most important books on the sōsaku-hanga movement, “Modern Japanese Prints: An Art Reborn.”

Iwami Reika (1927-2020) - was a Japanese-born artist and one of the founders of the Joryū Hanga Kyōkai. For a short video about Iwami Reika’s work, check out

Round Shadow C (1957)

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. 

Yoseido Gallery - is a fine print gallery located in the Ginza district of Tōkyō, Japan since 1953. More information can e found, here.

Francis Blakemore (1906-1997) - was an American-born artist, writer, philanthropist and curator of modern Japanese mokuhanga. She lived in Japan for over fifty years and helped to support the burgeoning sōsaku hanga print movement of the 1950s. Blakemore worked in mokuhanga (collaborating with Watanabe Shōzaburō) and making self-printed and carved prints. She also worked in oils. 

Far Eastern Madonna (1939) white line woodblock print 

Japanese Economy of the 1950’s - from 1945-1991 Japan had its most prosperous period of economic growth. By 1955 the economic began to grow twice as fast as prior to ’55. According to The Berkley Economic Review the advancement of technologies, accumulation of capital, increased quantity and quality of labor, and increased international trade were the main reasons that strenghtend Japan. For more information regarding the begining of this growth you can find the BER article here

intaglio printing - is a printing method, also called etching, using metal plates such as zinc, and copper, creating “recessed” areas which are printed with ink on the surface of these "recesses.” More info, here. The MET has info, here.  

Minami Keiko (1911-2004) - was a Japanese-born artist and a founder of the Joryū Hanga Kyōkai. Keiko’s work is abstract, whimsical and youthful. She lived mainly in Paris, France, where she studied aquatint etching under Johhny Friedlaender (1912-1992). More information about Minami Keiko’s art and life can be found here

House With Sun and Trees : watercolour and gouache 14 3/4x11 in.

Yōzō Hamaguchi (1909-2000) - was a Japanese-born mezzotint printmaker who lived in Paris, France, for most of his life. He was the husband of Minami Keiko. 

Bottle With Lemons and Red Wall (1989) mezzotint 30 x 24 in.

mezzotint - is a style of printmaking which uses a copper plate, “rocked” with a tool called a rocker, and then burnished with various devices. A good video showing the entire process from start to finish of a mezzotint print can be found here by the artist Julie Niskanen Skolozynski.

Kobayashi Donge - is an aquatint etching artist who’s subject is generally women and literature. 

Roses Go Well With Mount Fuji (1993) etching with hand colouring on paper

Tokyo University of the Arts (Geidai) - founded during the merger of the Tokyo Fine Arts School and the Tokyo Music School in 1949, TUA offers Masters's and Doctorate degrees in various subjects such as sculpture, craft and design as well as music and film. It has multiple campuses throughout the Kantō region of Japan. More information regarding the school and its programs can be found here

担当者 - is a Japanese word which means “person in charge."

Nihon Hanga Kyōkai - is the Japanese Printmakers Association. It was created in 1918, focusing on the new sōsaku hanga print movement. It evolved into a modern print organization covering various types of printmaking, such as relief, intaglio, planographic (lithography and offset printmaking), and stencil. You can find more information on their website in Japanese and English here.

First Thursday Society (一木会) - was created by printmaker Onchi Kōshirō (1891-1955). The group brought artists and collectors to discuss the growing sōsaku hanga (creative print) movement to collaborate, share their work, and it acted as a mentorship program. 

Un'ichi Hiratsuka (平塚 運一) - (1895-1977) - was one of the important players of the sōsaku hanga movement in mokuhanga. Hiratsuka was a proponent of self carved and self printed mokuhanga, and taught one of the most famous sōsaku hanga printmakers in Shikō Munakata (1903-1975). He founded the Yoyogi Group of artists and also taught mokuhanga at the Tōkyō School of Fine Arts. Hiratsuka moved to Washington D.C in 1962 where he lived for over thirty years. His mokuhanga was multi colour and monochrome touching on various subjects and is highly collected today. 

Landscape (1934) 

College Women’s Association of Japan - was started by the alumnae of Mount Holyoke College from Massachusetts. Later expanding to other universities and colleges in the US, the CWAJ  established Japanese women to study abroad through travel grants and scholarships, thereby promoting Japanese culture. What began as a fundraising program from 1956 onward, the annual print show has become one of the most essential print shows in the world, showcasing prints of all types. It is the largest juried print show in Japan. More information about the CWAJ and its print show can be found here

Kantō (関東地方) - is a region located on the main island of Honshu, Japan, which encompasses the Prefectures of Gunma, Tochigi, Ibaraki, Saitama, Tōkyō, Chiba and Kanagawa. The Kantō Regional Development Bureau of the Ministry of Land Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism oversees these prefectures. More information can be found here

Kansai (関西地方) - is a region located on the main island of Honshu, Japan, which encompasses the Prefectures of Nara, Kyoto, Wakayama, Osaka, Hyōgo, Shiga and Mie. It has the most UNESCO world heritage sites in Japan. For tourist information about Kansai, see here

Jun'ichirō Sekino (1914-1988) - was a Japanese mokuhanga printmaker of the sōsaku hanga creative prints movement. Sekino's works are landscapes and portraits and are black and white and colourful. Sekino studied under Onchi Kōshirō. He was invited to the United States several times as a visiting professor at Oregon State University, the University of Washington, and Penn State University in 1963, where he taught classes on mokuhanga. You can find more information about Sekino and his work and life on his website here

U.S Army Officer (1948)  24"x18.8" in.

Munakata Shikō (志功棟方) - (1903-1975) arguably one of the most famous modern printmakers; Shikō is renowned for his prints of women, animals, the supernatural and Buddhist deities. He made his prints with an esoteric fervour where his philosophies about mokuhanga were just as interesting as his print work. 

Night Birds (The Fence of...) 7.4"x11.5" in.

Aomori (青森県) - is a prefecture in north Japan. Located about an hour and a half from Tōkyō, Aomori is known for its incredible nature, festivals, sports and outdoor activities in all four seasons. More information can be found here

Kobe, Japan - is the capital city of Hyōgo Prefecture in Japan. One of the few ports open to Western trade, Kobe has always had a great vibe. With a lot to visit and see, Kobe has many attractions, such as its harbour, Mount Rokkō, and various museums and mansions on the hill; its proximity to Osaka and Kyoto makes it an ideal place to visit. For more information about Kobe, Japan, see here

Shirokiya - was a department store company which started in Japan with various stores throughout Japan and Hawai’i. It was founded in Tōkyō in 1662 and went out of business in 2020. The store was famously depicted in a Hiroshige print, View of Nihonbashi Tori-itchome 1858. 

Sarah Lawrence College - is a liberal arts college in Yonkers, New York.  Founded in 1926, Sarah Lawrence has been dedicated to the education process and inclusivity of its student body since its inception. For more information about the school and their work can be found here.

Pratt Institute - is a private university located in Brooklyn, New York. Established in 1887 and founded by American business magnate Charles Pratt (1830-1891), the Pratt Institute focuses on the liberal arts such as architecture, art and design, shaping leaders of tomorrow. For more information about TPI, you can look here

Elise Grilli (d.1969) - was an art critic and author who wrote for the Japan Times. She lived in Japan throughout the 1940’s into the 1960’s. Her book The Art Of The Japanese Screen is considered a classic. 

Charles Terry (1926-1982) - was an author and translator of Japanese in Tōkyō for Harry J. Abrams. 

James A Michener (1907-1997) - a Pulitzer Prize winning writer, scholar and academic who wrote on Japanese prints, amongst many more topics.

Shima Tamami (1937-1999) - was a mokuhanga printmaker who joined the JHK when they had already established themselves. Her career was short, moving to the United States in the 1960s. Her mokuhanga depicts Japanese aesthetics and themes producing still lives. Her work was featured in James Michener's book, The Modern Japanese Print: An Appreciation, in 1962. For more information and images of Tamami Shima's work, please check out the Viewing Japanese Prints site here.

Bird B (1959) 11.9"x16.3" in.

Noriko Kuwahara - is a scholar, curator, and author of Japanese art in Japan. 

PoNJA-GenKon - is an online listserve group which means Post-1945 (Nineteen Forty Five) Japanese Art Discussion Group Geidai Bijutsu Kondankai. It was established in 2003 to bring together specialists in Japanese art in the English speaking world. For more information about what PoNJA-GenKon does search here.

Philadelphia Museum of Art - originating with the Centennial Exhibition of 1876, the PMA has over 200,000 pieces of art and objects and is one of the preeminent museums in the US. More information can be found here.

Sakura City Museum of Art -  is a fine art museum located in Sakura City, Chiba, Japan. It is dedicated to the arts of those form Sakura City and Bosho. More information in Japanese here

Ao no Fūkei (Landscape in Blue) - is a mokuhanga print created by Chizuko Yoshida in 1972. 

Futurism - is an art movement which began in Italy. It was established in the early 20th Century by artists Filippo Tommaso Marinetti (1876-1944), Umberto Boccioni (1882-1916), and Carlo Carrà (1881-1966), amongst others. The idea of Futurism was to reject the past and celebrate the speed and power of the present, of industrialization and modernity through art. Futurism influenced other artistic communities around the world. 

The Endless Manifesto - Started by Tommaso Marinetti’s original manifesto on Futurism called Manifesto of Futurism, the Futurists wrote many manifestos about their ideas on art, history, politics, literature, music, among other topics, until 1914, as well as books, articles in literary journals, magazines and newspapers. The MoMA has written a good article on the Futurists and their manifestos and writings here.

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opening and closing musical credit - Joe Chambers "Ruth" released on Blue Note Records (2023)

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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.***