The fall exhibition at Sebastian Izzard LLC explores the world of Japanese prints in the first half of the twentieth century. This was an era of energy, new influences, and styles, and a refocusing of the Japanese print world by catering to new tastes.
The man at the center of this revival was the entrepreneurial genius Watanabe Shōzuburō (1885–1962), whose publications form the greatest portion of the works in this exhibition. Deeply interested in Edo period ukiyo-e, Watanabe made it his project to rescue the art form, which had fallen somewhat out of fashion. Blessed with a natural flair for business, a good eye, and a personable manner, he placed himself at the center of a team of newly recruited artists and craftsmen who worked in tandem, in this aspect resembling the great 18th and 19th century publishers Tsutaya Jūzaburō and Nishimuraya Yohachi. In doing so, he single-handedly created the Shin-hanga movement, recording the fashions of the day and the landscapes of Japan in the pre-war period, for the delectation of his market, both domestic and international. Watanabe worked with successful professional artists such as Yoshida Hiroshi (1876–1950) and Hashiguchi Goyō (1880?–1921), both of whom were trained in the Western manner and knew what appealed to foreign tastes. He later commissioned a very young Itō Shinsui (1898‒1972) to create beauty prints for him, and Kawase Hasui (1883‒1957) completed over five hundred landscape images for Watanabe before his death. Artists who were not represented by Watanabe are also featured in the exhibition. They include Takahashi Hiroaki (1871–1945), Kobayakawa Kiyoshi (1899–1948), and Torii Kotondo (1900–1976) whose beauty prints captured the stylish elegance of the Taishō era.
*A selection of these prints may be viewed on our website izzardasianart.com
*The exhibition will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue.