Visions of Modernity: 20th Century Japanese Woodblock Prints (ongoing)

  • 30 Aug 2015
  • 31 Dec 2015
  • Santa Barbara Museum of Art

Presented in a series of rotations, Visions of Modernity explores the burst of creativity in 20th-century Japanese printmaking. During this time, artists experimented with Western artistic concepts and techniques such as linear perspective and naturalism in an effort to find new modes of expression befitting of the “modern” time. Two printmaking movements emerged, shin-hanga (new prints) and sōsaku-hanga (creative prints), that were to have a lasting effect on the future course of graphic art in Japan.

The second installment of this exhibition focuses on the work of notable shin-hanga and sōsaku-hanga artists from the permanent collection. While shin-hanga artists continued to depict subjects that were central to the previous ukiyo-e (floating world) tradition, they infused the “new prints” with a fresh juxtaposition of colors and heightened sense of naturalism. These prints, created in the collaborative workshop, revitalized the waning printmaking industry and further attracted the attention of a growing Western audience. Sōsaku-hanga prints, on the other hand, emerged among a group of artists who embraced the notion of the artist as an individual and hailed freedom of expression. They asserted their newfound creative independence by designing, carving, and producing their own prints from start to finish—breaking with the time-honored collaborative process of printmaking in Japan.

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