1915. Item #90131
ONCHI Koshiro, et al. TSUKUBAE, #4. Tokyo, Rakuyôdô, Taishô 4 [March, 1915]. It would be hard to overestimate the importance of TSUKUBAE, not just to Onchi's career (many judge the production his best - "from the cradle") but to the history of Japanese printmaking and book illustration in the 20th century as a whole. He created it together with two fellow students at the Tokyo School of Art: Fujimori Shizuo and Tanaka Kyokichi. Tanaka died in 1915. It is remarkable how little scholarly work has been done on this magazine in the West. The first issue, published in September 1914, was printed in an edition of 200 copies but sales were so poor that as time went on, subsequent issues were printed in smaller and smaller numbers. According to the scholar Helen Merritt, no more than 11 copies of any issue where ever actually printed and sold. The "public" issues, produced from the original artist-carved blocks, by Rakuyôdô, for whom Onchi had worked as a book designer, ran to issue 7, published in November 1915, and there were a few done privately in editions of 3 or 4, as well. Thus some say TSUKUBAE ran to 7 issues, some to 11 issues. The production was so vanishingly small that doubt remains. This copy is in remarkably good, clean condition. In any condition, it is a true rarity, as a complete copy with all contents, even more so. It is significant that this year, 1915, Onchi became the first printmaker in Japan to produce fully abstract prints in TSUKUBAE and the abstract painting LYRIC, THE CLEAR HOURS. Looking at the history of world art, he must be one of the first anywhere.