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Synopsis

Western art-lovers and students of the Orient have long championed the glories of traditional Japanese art. Almost unknown to the West, however, a relatively new and most active school of Japanese artists has for three generations been turning out some of the most exciting work to appear on the world's artistic horizon in many years-the modern Japanese hanga, or block print. This book constitutes the first major discussion to be published in English of this important branch of contemporary art.

By far the most vitally creative group of artists working in Japan today, these print-makers are truly international in appeal. Although they owe much of their heritage to the famous ukiyoe techniques of the past, they depart from their forebears in at least two important respects. In the first place, whereas in the ancient ukiyoe tradition a print was the joint production of three men- the artist-designer, the artisan who carved the blocks, and the printer-these modern artists perform all these functions themselves, thus satisfying their demands for individual artistic expression at every step of the creative process. Another distinguishing feature of this artistic school is that its inspiration is derived neither solely from its own Japanese past nor solely from the West. Basically, using a traditional Japanese method, these artists have taken inspiration from the entire world to achieve a rare synthesis of East and West, of the old and the new.

This book carefully traces the history of the modern-print movement through detailed discussions of the life and work of twenty-nine of its most noteworthy and representative artists. It describes with understanding and sympathy the vicissitudes which the movement has undergone and the high artistic ideals
which have motivated its members in spite of public apathy and the hostility of the traditionalists. In this labor of love, the author has spared no effort to explore and survey the entire field of modern printmaking. In addition to intensive research into the actual prints, he has also culled a body of fascinating biographical detail through personal interviews with the artists themselves, their friends, associates, and families. And he has carefully
chosen, both for their own intrinsic worth and their representativeness,
the 102 prints which are reproduced, giving both in the text and in an invaluable appendix full treatment to the sources of inspiration for the prints and to their actual techniques of production.

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