Japanese Prints During the Allied Occupation 1945-1952: Onchi Koshiro, Ernst Hacker and the First Thursday Society. Lawrence Smith.

Japanese Prints During the Allied Occupation 1945-1952: Onchi Koshiro, Ernst Hacker and the First Thursday Society

Art Media Resources, Inc. Hardcover. 9 x 11", 128 pp., 40 color and 75 b/w illustrations, cloth, d.j., Chicago, 2002. Item #22778
ISBN: 1588860191

In 1945 much of urban Japan lay in ruins, the land occupied by foreign powers for the first time in the country's history. To many Japanese it seemed that everything had been lost, but in fact the nation would quickly demonstrate - and on a much larger scale than ever before - its ability to recover physically, economically and culturally from apparent disaster. In the visual arts, the years between 1945 and 1952 were a period of steady progress and considerable achievement in painting, calligraphy, prints, ceramics and other crafts.

This book examines in detail how one school of printmakers, under the leadership of Onchi Koshiro (1889-1955), survived with difficulty the Pacific War and as artists found themselves among those calling for a new search for the nation's heart in its aesthetic traditions. They also received unexpected appreciation from connoisseurs among the occupying forces and administrators. Symbolic of this process was the meeting of the American graphic artist Ernst Hacker (1917-87), posted to Tokyo in April 1946, with Onchi and his circle and with Munakata Shiko (1903-75), who was then almost unknown. Prints and archives acquired by Hacker at that time and recently given to The British Museum by his widow form the unique basis of this study.

By 1952, when the Allied Occupation ended, work by Onchi and his circle and by Munakata was eagerly collected in the United States, and these two, introduced to the world by their American admirers, are now recognized as Japan's greatest print artists of the twentieth century.

This catalogue accompanies the exhibition at the British Museum, June 20 - September 1, 2002.

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