Ukiyo-e ~ Floating World Picture ~ Part 2
Ukiyo-e Periods or Movements
Broadly speaking ukiyo-e art can be divided into five different art periods and movements.
The Edo Period
This is the classical period of ukiyo-e which lasted from 1603 until 1868 when the Meiji reformation took place. Although a time of military rule and oppression, and a period of world seclusion, it was also a time of relative peace, when the merchant and artisan classes flourished and emphasis was on worldly pleasures.
The Meiji Period
At the end of the Tokugawa shogunate when the emperor was reinstated, Japan underwent considerable reform and opened up to the Western world and western ideas. It was a time of cultural shock and change.
In ukiyo-e art natural dyes were replaced by chemical aniline dyes imported from Germany and after 1900 the ukiyo-e movement had almost died out commercially. Photography had taken its place. There was a great push at this time to adopt western artistic ideals and reject traditional Japanese art forms.
Ukiyo-e prints had become so worthless that they were used as packing for the shipment of trade goods. When Europeans saw them they became a major source of inspiration for impressionist artists, Cubist and post impressionists: such as Vincent Van Gogh, James Abbott McNeill Whistler, Claude Monet, Edgar Degas, Mary Cassatt, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and others. This Japanese influence on European art became known by the French term Japonisme.
Kunichika Toyohara 1835-1900
The Shin Hanga movement
The shin hanga (new print) movement from roughly 1910-1960, was an attempt to revive ukiyo-e as an art form. Publisher Watanabe commissioned starving artists for prints and exported the results mainly to the United States. Shin Hanga mixed traditional ukiyo-e subjects with some western elements especially the use of light and perspective, and the expression of individual moods, but remained focused on traditional themes.
The movement sought to restore Japan's picturesque traditional scenery to the hearts and minds of the Japanese people in addition to creating a sense of pride in the country's heritage. It was to also act as a buffer to the speedy westernisation of Japan.
The shin hanga movement was a successful renaissance of ukiyo-e as an art form although not as commercial art for the masses as it had originally been.
Important artists of this movement include Ito Shinsui and Kawase Hasui, but perhaps the best known and most loved was Hiroshi Yoshida, 1876-1950.
The Sosaku Hanga Movement
Traditionally in woodblock print making each of the various tasks in the production of a piece of work was allocated to different craftsman.
Sosaku Hanga ( creative prints) was a movement that suggested the artist should be responsible for each element – the design, the carving, the printing and the publishing. In addition the painting style was closer to Western ideals.
The Sosaku movement never really gained a great following and the collection of these prints has remained a niche market.
After WWII print making in Japan became more international. Western artists went to Japan to learn the old Japanese way; a number under the tutelage of Toshi Yoshida and Tomikichiro Tokuriki. Now many artists from around the world are exponents of what has become known as moku hanga.
Information sourced from Wikipedia,
and the books Hiroshige by Matthi Forrer,
Shin Hanga -The new print movement of Japan by Barry Till