Japanese Woodblock Print & Art Dealer

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 When we first began to sell Japanese Ukiyoe Art, and Modern Japanse Prints in Bethesda, Md. in 1970, we found a base of Japanese Art Collectors who had traveled and lived in Japan and were interested in Ukiyoe Art and Modern Japanese Art. From the beginning, we had numerous requests for the works of Tadashi Nakayama. It seemed to us that he was the only important artist in Japan. His work was selling very rapidly and there were long waiting lists for his Japanese Art Prints. We first met with him in 1971 and it was in 1973, that we received permission to publish the catalogue raisonne of his work. However, it was not until 1983 that Tadashi Nakayama: His Life and Work was finally published. The reason for the delay is that we decided to include each of his Japanese Artworks completed up to that time in the greatest depth possible. We were especially interested in including the number of blocks, number of colors and stages of printing for each art work. Mr Nakayama, never thinking he would be a world famous artist had not recorded this information, but he had stored all of the blocks in his garage. At our request, he painstakingly reconstructed the creation of each of the prints and reported to us the number of blocks, number of colors and stages of printing.

In addition, we wanted the titles of the works to be in Japanese, romaji and English.The material was first compiled in English, then translated into Japanese for Nakayama's review, and then translated back into English including Mr. Nakayama's corrections which were very limited in number.

When it became time to publish the Modern Japanese Artwork, further decisions were necessary. One leading publisher suggested printing the entire catalogue in black and white, so that the book could be sold for a lower price. We vetoed that idea and eventually had it printed with 292 color photographs.

Tadashi Nakayama is one of Japan's leading woodblock print artists. He has enjoyed extraordinary success throughout his career, and his incredibly intricate woodblock prints on hand-made mulberry paper- some requiring as many as 19 blocks, 45 colors and 53 stages of hand printing - have been collected and greatly admired throughout the the world since the early 1960s. Yet little is kown about his life, career or technique. He devotes himself to his art and totally ignores self-promotion. Even so, his prints are nearly always pre-sold, to collectors whose names appear on lengthy waiting lists in the few galleries which represent him.

The culmination of a nine year project, this is the first book on this reclusive Japnese woodblock printer and one of the most definitive in any language on a living Japanese print artist. Containing 292 full color photographs including all 211 of his woodblock prints to date, plus 72 black and white photos, the book is a scholarly treatment of Nakayama's technique, his life and career, it includes a complete catalogue raisonne, as well as brief histories of woodblock printing and papermaking in Japan. It graphically illustrates and describes Nakayama's woodblock printing technique and explains this ancient art form in detail. This book is an invaluble reference for museums, universities, art historians, scholars and collectors. Kappy Hendricks

 

 

Joichi Hoshi - I met with Mr. Hoshi in 1978 a few months before his death in June, 1979. He had just completed a new home in Chiba Prefecture which he proudly showed to those who visited. The home was designed for complete living comfort as well as for a spacious work area. One room was devoted to drawing the image and transferring it to the woodblocks. The second was used for carving of blocks. At the time I visited with him he had four apprentices and thus needed considerable room for working. The third room was used for printing and the last for signing, numbering and storage of the prints. The most interesting aspect was that there were automatic sliding doors between rooms so that the door would open immediately when a person aproached it. The worker could pass through the door with numbers of prints in his arms and still be sure that he didn't damage any of them.

Mr. Hoshi explained to me the inspiration for his work. He had traveled to Mongolia especially for the purpose of star gazing. He told me enthusiastically that he is sure the sky is darker there than anywhere else in the world and the brightness of the stars is unbelievable. This is one of the inspirations for the long series which he did on galaxies and constellations.

In the early 1970s, he turned his attention to trees which he felt were God's greatest creation. He concentrated on single trees, groves and detailed branches. His colors were bright and colorful; often he printed the images in two different colors.

Gradually his prints were collected by individuals, famous and otherwise, and corporations. His prints were in the White House, Washington, D.C. as well as in other prestigious locations.

When I returned to Japan in June 1979, I arrived too late. I was informed shortly after my arrival that Hoshi-san had passed away. It was of course, a great shock to me and collectors everywhere. He had had such a short career. Early in his life he had been a teacher in Taiwan for 20 years. After the war he was repatriated to Japan where he began to study art. Because he had very limited finances at that time, he lived by himself during the course of his studies and his wife lived with her parents. This is just one of the sacrifices he had to make in order to complete his training. His career as an artist was marked by the feeling of urgency that he had that he must catch up with his comtemporaries.

The day after Mr. Hoshi's funeral, I received a call from a friend informing me that Mrs. Hoshi wanted to sell some of her late husband's prints. I visited his home and found hundreds of prints available for my selection. They were signed by Joichi Hoshi and numbered or there was an indication on each print that it was from his private collection. I selected 500 of them and was thoroughly pleased there was such a large number of fine prints from which to choose. Living the Modern Japanese Print Movement has proven to be a tremendous advantage to me, rather than observing it as a casual by-stander or after the fact.

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