Since mid 19th century Japan was an important source of inspiration for western artist. Vincent van Gogh collected Japanese prints and painted his 'plum trees in bloom' based on a woodcarving by Utagawa Hiroshige (1857).
Ishikawa Toraji, Suzu no ne (1935)
The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam currently displays 170 Japanse prints dating early 20th century, courtesy by collector Elise Wessels.
Koizumi Kishio, Shinjuku (Tokyo, 1935)
During this time period Japan experienced rapid growth of industrialisation and modernisation, causing great changes in landscape and social relations. For artists it lead to new perspectives and resulted in 2 new currents in the art of prints: the Sosaku Hanga and the Sosaka Hanga.
Ishii Hakutei, Mizugi (1932)
On the one hand artists reverted to traditional printing techniques such as woodcarving and block printing. On the other hand we see technical experiments and the introduction of new themes, like the swimmer shown above as part of the series 'Modern Woman' by Ishii Hukutei.
Uehara Konen, Dotonbori (1928)
The beautifully executed catalogue offers a solid introduction on the two variations of print art: the Sosaku Hanga and the Shin Hanga. The second one was a style closely related to the classic Japanese Ukiyo-e prints. The Sosaku was more experimental and incorporated modernity in its pictures.
The exhibition 'Japan: Modern' is on display at the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam till September 11th 2016.