ONCHI Kôshiro, artist. A Framed Collection of Woodcut Illustrations. After the war, Onchi Kôshiro created a series of woodcut illustrations for a project involving the publication of a revamped classroom curriculum for Japanese students in the post-war era. For whatever reason, those designs do not appear to have been used - they do not appear in his catalog raisonné of prints and book illustrations. Though a series of edited and expurgated pre-war textbooks were employed immediately after the war, more permanent changes in the curriculum were not effected for several years. As this set of Onchi illustrations were designed to be used in a basic Japanese language book, it is possible that the extensive language reform after the war stopped the finalization and publication of the textbook at all.
In any event, the set has a few marginal notations which indicate page placement, etc., so the project must have proceeded to the mock-up level before being abandoned. There are 11 cuts in b+w with two having light coloration. Portraits of Tolstoy, Einstein, Lincoln and Franklin combine with landscapes, insects, children at play, etc. The images seem to be suffused with a gentle sadness - they certainly seem to capture the spirit of the times. Truly a lovely and important group. There is no way to overestimate Onchi's importance to 20th century Japanese print making. This experimental group of cuts is a tribute to his art and an accurate evocation of an age. Framed in a custom mat.