From Edouard Manet’s portrait of naturalist writer Émile Zola sitting among his Japanese art finds to Van Gogh’s meticulous copies of the Hiroshige prints he devotedly collected, 19th-century pioneers of European modernism made no secret of their love of Japanese art. In all its sensuality, freedom, and effervescence, the woodblock print is single-handedly credited with the wave of japonaiserie that first enthralled France and, later, all of Europe—but often remains misunderstood as an “exotic” artifact that helped inspire Western creativity.
The fact is that the Japanese woodblock print is a phenomenon of which there exists no Western equivalent. Some of the most disruptive ideas in modern art—including, as Karl Marx put it, that “all that is solid melts into air”—were invented in Japan in the 1700s and expressed like never before in the designs of such masters as Hokusai, Utamaro, and Hiroshige in the early 19th century.
This book lifts the veil on a much-loved but little-understood art form by presenting the 200 most exceptional Japanese woodblock prints in their historical context. Ranging from the 17th-century development of decadent ukiyo-e, or “pictures of the floating world,” to the decline and later resurgence of prints in the early 20th century, the images collected in this edition make up an unmatched record not only of a unique genre in art history, but also of the shifting mores and cultural development of Japan.
Three years in the making, this XXL edition presents reproductions of the finest extant impressions from the vaults of museums and private collections across the globe—many newly photographed especially for this project. Some 17 stunning fold-outs invite us to study even the subtlest details, while extensive descriptions guide us through this frantic period in Japanese art history.
- The work of 89 artists, from the world-renowned to the unfamiliar
- 7 chapters organized chronologically to trace the history of the medium from 1680 to 1938
- 17 fold-outs, hand-folded due to their size and specifications
- Exclusive reproductions from museums and private collections
- An appendix listing all artists and works
Japanese Woodblock Prints (1680–1938)
Hardcover, 29 x 39.5 cm, 622 pages
Multilingual Edition: English, French, German
Levertijd: 5-7 werkdagen