Just to wrap up the last few post’s focus on my trip to Japan, I thought I would use today’s post to tell you a little story, and share with you my love for Japanese woodblock prints.
Let’s start with the story.
Freshman year in college, no matter what our major was, we were required to take a ‘writing seminar’ each semester. Although this was a dreaded part of being a freshman, we were told that there were incredibly exciting and modern topics, such as “Batman’s America,” “Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters,” and “Interactive Media and Art.” Since the sign ups for these classes were first come, first served, and I had a whole lot of small design classes that I needed to get into, the freshman writing seminar was the last thing I looked for. I was forced to sign up for whatever was left.
I signed up for “Pop Culture in Early Modern Japan”.
Although this class may have been the last thing anyone else wanted to take, it was perfect for me! I had no idea what I was about to learn, but 13 years later I still talk about what an impact that class had on me.
The focus of the class was on traditional Ukiyo-e woodblock prints, from the 17th to the 19th centuries. This period in Japan was called the “Edo” or modern period, as many of the country benefited from rapid economic growth. While the lower and middle classes gained more disposable income, they began to indulge in upper class entertainments, such as alcohol, theatre, music and prostitution. As art mimics reality, these Ukiyo-e woodblock prints were named as such for the world it represented. ‘Ukiyo-e’ meaning ‘Art of the floating world’, as ‘Ukiyo’ was the term for the ‘floating world’- this modern, hedonistic lifestyle.
Japanese woodblock prints were easy to reproduce, as an artist would carve a block once, and use it repeatedly with different colors and in different scenes to create new prints. The artists of the time produced images of female beauties, kabuki actors and sumo wrestlers, scenes from history and folk tales, travel scenes and landscapes, flora and fauna, and erotica, launching the first easily replicable Japanese pornography.
I have always thought that the way men and women are drawn (or carved!) in Japanese art was quite beautiful. The human faces are always soft and round, whereas the layers of kimono, apparel, flowers and mountains are quite angular and detailed. This indicated to me how importantly they viewed their surroundings and their traditions, but how the people were depicted as just general faces. This contrasts quite distinctly from European and American art of the same time period.
Anyway, I loved this class. I loved it so much that when asked to design a 4-way scarf on AutoCad my freshman year in another class, I chose to be inspired by the Japanese woodblock prints. You can see the two color ways of the scarf I designed below:
What’s the point of all this? The point is that while I was traveling through Japan my love for Ukiyo-e was renewed, and I have partnered with Bidsquare again to show you how you can find some of these beautiful prints on their website. They have a great selection of Japanese woodblock prints, from Geisha to Samurai, to beautiful landscape scenes. I have always thought a triptych of the kimono-clad ladies would be great for a bathroom, or a large scale mountain for an entry way table. Or how about a ‘his’ and ‘hers’ Samurai and Lady set to depict who’s side of the bed it is??
Here are some of the beautiful works of art available on Bidsquare. I picked out my favorites because I think they all need homes with my lovely readers!
Here are a few of landscapes, flora and natural disasters…
1 // 2 // 3 // 4 (signed) // 5 (signed)
And here are some of my favorites depicting scenes of beautiful women and high power men. Really take a look at some of the detail in the kimono, and the emotive expressions they were able to achieve with very simple facial lines.
1 // 2 (set of 2) // 3 (how great is this for an entry way?) // 4 // 5 // 6 (set of 2, what a great ‘his’ and ‘hers’ set!) // 7 (set of 4)
If you like the idea of owning Japanese woodblock prints but don’t see one above that you love, just open a small search on Bidsquare, as they have many more right now are constantly uploading additional Ukiyo-e like these available on their site.
As a reminder, this is how you shop on Bidsquare:
- To bid in an auction a first time Bidsquare user must first register on Bidsquare here: https://auctions.bidsquare.com/signup. Once you register you can add items to your wishlist just like any shopping site and search keywords you want to receive alerts on.
- Every time you want to bid in a different auction, you must register for the auction. Once you register for the auction, you’ll be approved by the auction house to bid. You will receive a confirmation email.
- Register. Then either browse the list of auctions that are currently live or search a specific item by typing it into the search box. When you like something, add it to your watchlist to receive updates and know when the sale is on!