[Woodblock Print Calendar for 1937 - 12 sheets]
Onchi Kōshirō 恩地孝四郎, Kawakami Sumio 川上澄生, Maekawa Senpan 前村千帆 et al, artists
[Nihon Hanga Kyōkai 日本版画協会 Japan Print Association]
Shōwa 12 昭和12年 1937
12 sheets 24.7 x 12.6cm each illustrating one month of the year Shōwa 12 昭和12年, 1937 in original color woodblock prints. Known to be published annually by the Nihon Hanga Kyōkai 日本版画協会 (Japan Print Association), which issued calendars with the same format until at least Shōwa 19 . The top section is the calendar with dates and below it an original artwork, both done in the style of the artist, all of whom were established in the field of woodblock printmaking. All but one of the names are written vertically in Japanese in ink on the rear in the lower right hand corner. Hanko are found in “Guide to Modern Japanese Woodblock Prints: 1900-1975,” by Helen Merritt and Nanako Yamada as indicated.
The Nihon Hanga Kyōkai 日本版画協会 Japan Print Association, still in existence today, was established in January 1931 when the Japan Creative Print Association Sōsaku Hanga 創作版画 (formed in 1918) merged with the Western Print Association Yōfū Hangakai 洋風版画会 (formed in 1929), attracting independent artists.
January - Hiratsuka Un’ichi 平塚運一 (1895-1997) created the woodcut of a bearded Daikokuten 大黒天, god of good fortune and wealth, holding aloft an Uchide no Kozuchi 打ち出の小槌 (lucky mallet) with the name Mt. Yudono 湯殿山, a Shinto shrine in Yamagata prefecture, within the work. Hiratsuka initially studied watercolor and later ventured into painting and printmaking. He was prolific in the latter, contributing to numerous periodicals and collaborating with Onchi and Maekawa Senpan, among others, later influencing the younger generation as a teacher, including his student Maeda Masao 前田政雄. The artist’s seal of ‘un’ 運 can be found in Merritt p. 285. His works are held at the Art Institute of Chicago as well as other museums.
February - Maeda Masao 前田政雄 (1904 - 1974). This winter-themed woodcut of skiers on a snowy hill reflects the artist’s Hokkaido birthplace and childhood. A student of Hiratsuka Un’ichi 平塚運一, he was an active member of printmaking groups and contributed to a number of compiled works. The technical skills and details for which he is known are shown in his well-known work from the 1930s, Hokkaido Hakkei 北海道八景 [8 Views of Hokkaido]. His hanko seal of “masa” “政” is in Merritt p 294.
March - Katsuhira Tokushi 勝平得之 (1904-1971). It is fitting that the artists depicts the March 3rd festival of Hinamatsuri 雛祭り or Girl’s Day in Japan, as he got his start as an artist carving wood dolls. Largely self-taught, he exhibited his works in a number of competitions and often created prints on the theme of Akita prefecture, where he grew up. His seal of “toku” 得 is in Merritt p.291.
April - Onchi Kōshirō 恩地孝四郎 (1891–1955) contributed a print of two butterflies with blocks of blue. HIs accomplishments throughout the first half of the 20th century begin with his eminence as a printmaker. Onchi was an innovator who domesticated the ideals of abstraction and "creative printmaking" in Japan when still in art school. From his early years, working with Takehisa Yumeiji 竹久夢二 among others, he began a long career as a printmaker, book designer and book illustrator. From the very beginning of his life in the arts he was the center and focus of the Creative Print Movement Sōsaku Hanga 創作版画, surrounding himself with fellow artists who took inspiration from his dedication to the cause of self-expression. His works are held in institutions internationally.
May - Henmi Takashi 逸見享 (1895 -1944) depicted an image of a red carp flag over a house which suggests the May 5th holiday originally known as Boy’s Day in Japan. A book designer, poet and artist, he was an active member of the Creative Print Movement Sōsaku Hanga and founding member of Nihon Hanga Kyōkai. His work is collected by the British Museum; his hanko ‘Takashi’ 享 is within the artwork.
June - Yamaguchi Susumu 山口進 (1897-1983) portrays two frogs in water for the June calendar sheet with his hanko within the artwork. A native of Nagano prefecture, his first job out of school was at a post office. He completed his first woodblock print soon after, having taught himself. In 1920 he moved to Kyoto and began studying at the Aoibashi Western Painting Institute under established painter Kuroda Seiki 黒田清輝 (1866-1924). His first international exhibition was just 5 years later and after his woodcuts received accolades, he devoted himself to printmaking. His works are held internationally, including the British Museum and the Ringling Museum of Art.
July - Fujimori Shizuo 藤森静雄 (1891-1943) shares his abstracted illustration of a bright blue river surrounded by yellow and light green scenery. He was a schoolmate of Onchi and helped with his issues of the seminal work, the art magazine Tsukuhae (Tsukubae) 月映 at Tokyo School of Art in about 1914-5. In 2019, the Fukuoka Art Museum 福岡市美術館 (Fukuoka-shi Bijutsukan) held an exhibit of his work from the magazine. He was a founding member of Nihon Hanga Kyōkai and contributed to numerous important works. His hanko ‘S’ is within the woodcut.
August - The red flower illustrated by Azechi Umetarō 畦地 梅太郎 (1902-1999) in the woodcut for August may well be a cliff flower, as Azechi was a mountain climber as well as an artist. Originally from Shikoku, he later worked in Tokyo and was mainly self-taught as a printmaker. His hanko ‘ウ’ is in Merritt p. 281. His works are held at the Art Institute of Chicago, MOMA, MFA Boston, and others.
September - The still life of fruits and nuts by Koizumi Kishio 小泉癸巳男 (1893-1945) incorporates the artist’s hanko izumi ‘泉 with “Kiso” underneath it, Merritt p. 295. Originally a calligrapher, he later studied painting and woodblock carving and carved his own prints, as well as others. A member of a number of printmaking groups, he contributed to well-known compilations and completed his own 32 Views of Mt. Fuji, the “Holy Mountain” Fugaku Sanjyū Rokkei 聖峰富岳三十六景.
October - Shimozawa Kihachirō 下澤木鉢郎 (1901-1986) was born Shimoyama Kihachirō 下山木鉢郎, but took on the surname Shimozawa after marrying the eldest daughter of woodblock artist Shimozawa Bunpei 下澤文平. His work is known under both names and often bears the character hachi ‘鉢” within a red hexagon as it does here in the October print of autumn foliage as viewed through a window. He was a watercolor artist as well as a printmaker; his work in both were awarded numerous prizes over the years. Institutions in Japan hold his works as well as the British Museum, which holds 6 of his prints and the MFA Boston which holds 3.
November - Maekawa Senpan 前川千帆 (1888-1960) was one of the most important of all the mid-century Sōsaku Hanga 創作版画 Creative Print Movement artists. Senpan, whose penname was Sugimura Kōtarō 杉村廣太郎, was an established wood block print artist as well as a manga artist. His lovely blue-gray depiction of a branch of berries adorns the November calendar with his hanko ‘han’ 帆, Merritt p. 295.
December - Kawakami Sumio 川上澄生 (1895-1972) was a self-taught and well-known artist whose work is held internationally as well as in his namesake museum in Tochigi Prefecture. He was an important figure in the Sōsaku Hanga 創作版画 Creative Print Movement and in the December calendar portrays the Epiphany; his hanko is incorporated into the roof of the stable.
There is a hole in the upper right hand corner where the calendar pages were attached. Otherwise fine condition. Some fading and wrinkled areas. A lovely set of woodcuts by the most important Sōsaku Hanga printmakers of the time.